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THE POLITICAL IDEAS 

OF 

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 



H 



The Hafner 
Library of Classics 




UNIVERSITY 
OF FLORIDA 
LIBRARIES 




THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF 
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 



The Hafner Library of Classics 

[Number Fifteen] 



The Political Ideas of 
St. Thomas Aquinas 

Representative Selections 



Edited with an Introduction by 

DINO BIGONGIARI 

Da Ponte Professor of Italian, Columbia University 



H 



HAFNER PUBLISHING COMPANY -NEW YORK 

1957 



Copyright, 1953 
HAFNER PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC. 



Reprinted 1957 



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 

BY NOBLE OFFSET PRINTERS, INC. 
400 LAFAYETTE STREET, NEW YORK 3, N. Y. 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

vii 



Introduction 

Note on the Text xxiii 



QUESTION 

90 

91 
92 

93 
94 
95 
96 

97 
105 



42 
57 
58 
66 

77 



78. 
104. 



THE SUMMA THEOLOGICA, I-II 

Of the Essence of Law 3 

Of the Various Kinds of Law 11 

Of the Effects of Law 24 

Of the Eternal Law 29 

Of the Natural Law 42 

Of Human Law 55 

Of the Power of Human Law 65 

Of Change in Laws 78 

Of the Reason for the Judicial Precepts 

Article I: Whether the Old Law Enjoined Fitting Precepts 

Concerning Rulers ? 86 

THE SUMMA THEOLOGICA, II-II 

Of Sedition 92 

Of Right 96 

Of Justice 105 

Of Theft and Robbery 127 

Of Cheating, Which Is Committed in Buying and 
Selling 

Article I: Whether It Is Lawful to Sell a Thing for More 

Than Its Worth ? 143 

Of the Sin of Usury 147 

Of Obedience 159 



a 



VI CONTENTS 

ON KINGSHIP 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I. What is Meant by the Word "King" 175 

II. Whether It Is More Expedient for a City or Prov- 
ince to Be Ruled by One Man or Many 179 

III. That the Dominion of a Tyrant Is the Worst 181 

IV. Why the Royal Dignity Is Rendered Hateful to the 

Subjects 185 

V. That It Is a Lesser Evil When a Monarchy Turns into 
Tyranny Than When an Aristocracy Becomes Cor- 
rupt 186 

VI. How Provision Might be Made That the King May 

Not Fall into Tyranny 188 

X. What Advantages Which Are Rendered to Kings Are 

Lost by the Tyrant 192 

APPENDIX 

Notes 193 

Index of Abbreviated Titles 207 

Glossary 210 

Selected Bibliography 216 



INTRODUCTION * 

I. THE STATE AS A NATURAL ORDER 

A STATE according to St. Thomas is a part of the universal empire 
of which God is the maker and ruler. Its laws are, or can be made 
to be, particular determinations of this empire's eternal code; and 
the authority which enforces these laws is a power whose origin 
is also in Gk)d. Its goal and justification is to offer to man satis- 
factory material conditions of life as a basis for a moral and intel- 
lectual education which, in turn, must be such as to lend itself to 
the spiritual edification of the Christian man. For "God ... in- 
structs us by means of His law and assists us by His grace." ^ 

St. Thomas follows the Aristotelian doctrine that makes of man 
a "political animal," but he modifies it in accordance with the 
exigencies of his Christian philosophy. The fact that man operates, 
not by instinct, but by reason makes social organization indispen- 
sable. This interdependence of reason and sociability is explained 
by St. Thomas as follows: by endowing man with reason and at 
the same time depriving him of instinct and of an available ready- 
made supply of the necessities of life, God decreed that man should 
be a political animal. For to the beasts nature furnishes food, body 
covering, weapons of defense and offense (claws, fangs, horns, 
etc.), means for survival through flight (rapid wings and quick 
feet), etc. But all this, and much more, man must produce for 
himself under the direction of reason. What lower animals perform 
spontaneously and instinctively (i.e., by the exercise of the "esti- 
mative" faculty) man achieves as a result of rational processes. 

* The Introduction that follows is made up of extracts from a book of the 
editor (not yet published) on the political philosophy of St. Thomas. There is, 
therefore, no attempt at exhaustiveness or organic consistency. The aim was 
to facilitate the understanding of the selections from the Sumtna and the De 
Regimine Prindpum here included, by giving a detailed discussion of certain 
important topics and by introducing material from works of St. Thomas other 
than those above mentioned. ^ S. I-II, Q. 90, pp. 3 ff. 

vii 



VUl THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 

Beasts, without instruction, devoid of experience, deprived of mod- 
els, know immediately what to do and how to act: the newly born 
lamb at the mere sight of a wolf runs for safety; birds hatched 
from eggs that have been removed from the nest, when the time 
comes, build a nest identical to the one from which they came and 
which they never saw; ailing animals instinctively pick out the 
herbs that will cure their illnesses. Man, however, is born with a 
common vague notion in place of this precise and particularized 
instinct. To that general notion he applies reason and thus is able 
to take care of himself. He, too, discovers the herbs that cure his 
diseases, but as the result of a process of reasoning: 

Man . , . has a natural knowledge of the things which are es- 
sential for his life only in a general fashion, inasmuch as he is able 
to attain knowledge of the particular things necessary for human 
life by reasoning from natural principles.^ 

But for this there is need of collaborative efforts, and a division 
of labor is unavoidable.* Again in the words of St. Thomas: 

It is not possible for one man to arrive at a knowledge of all these 
things by his own individual reason. It is therefore necessary for 
man to live in a multitude so that each one may assist his fellows, 
and different men may be occupied in seeking, by their reason, to 
make different discoveries — one, for example, in medicine, one in 
this and another in that.^ 

This social process implies collaboration not merely of the mem- 
bers of -one generation and of one nation, but of all men at all 
times. Each coming generation which thrives on what its predeces- 
sors bequeathed to it in turn leaves to posterity an intellectual 
culture perfected by its own contributions. As our author says: 

It seems natural to human reason to advance gradually from the 
imperfect to the perfect. Hence, in speculative sciences, we see 
that the teaching of the early philosophers was imperfect, and that 
it was afterward perfected by those who succeeded them. So also 
in practical matters. Discursive rationality implies progress.* 

2 RJ>. {On Kingship) I, § 6, p. 176. * Cf. Avicenna, De anima v. i. 

* RJ*. loc. cit. The things which our mind discovers by this process St. 
Thomas calls "adinventiones" (5. II-II, Q. 55, A. 2). 
6 S. I-n, Q. 97, A. I, pp. 78 ff. 



INTRODUCTION IX 

That man was intended to collaborate rationally is proved by 
the fact that he alone is endowed with the capacity to speak. Speech 
is the specific communication of rational beings. Lower animals 
convey to each other only emotions or feelings — fear, desire, hunger, 
etc.; for such communication all that is needed is sound, e.g., 
braying or roaring. But man uses words, which are the outward 
manifestation of concepts, that is, products of a conceiving rea- 
son.® 

The naturally ordained distribution of tasks is described thus: 
"One man works for many, and many work for one." A political 
community is made up of artisans, farmers, soldiers, statesmen, etc. 
These constituents must do their work with competence, which 
means that they must be appropriately endowed and properly 
trained. A state, therefore, can function only if nature produces 
some men who are physically strong, others who are intellectually 
keen, and still others who are fearless. St. Thomas, on the authority 
of Aristotle, assures us that such men will always be forthcoming. 
Being indispensable to the state, they will be furnished by nature, 
since the state is "by nature," and "nature is never found lacking 
in what is necessary." The diversification of capacities essential 
to social collaboration is the unfailing gift of nature.'^ 

In St. Thomas, however, the stress is placed on the fact that this 
"naturality" is but the execution of a decree of providence. Na- 
ture is a secondary cause and only an instrument. In his own words, 

One man does not suffice to perform all those acts demanded by 
society, and therefore it is necessary that different persons be oc- 
cupied in different pursuits. The diversification of men for diverse 
tasks is the result, primarily, of divine providence, which details 
the various compartments of man's life in such a way that nothing 
necessary to human existence is ever lacking; secondarily, this 
diversification proceeds from natural causes which bring it about 
that different men are born with aptitudes and tendencies for the 
different functions and the various ways of living.^ 

e Cf. Ibid., A. 3, and In Pol. i. i. 

7 Seneca had said: "God gave man two things which transformed him from 

a dependent into a master: reason and sociability" {De benef. iv. i8). St. 

Thomas says: "reason through sociability." 

^Quodl. vii. 17; cf. C.G. iii. 132 and CI. v. 27. 



X THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 

Man cannot satisfy his instinct for social life with the resources 
offered by the home, nor by those available in an estate, nor even by 
those furnished by a village. These are not capable of providing the 
economic basis for "being," nor the educative one for "well-being." 
For man's nature, over and above mere subsistence, longs for knowl- 
edge and virtue. ("All men by nature desire to know"; and "the 
desire for virtue is inborn in man.") 

Because of these shortcomings, the above-named communities 
must be integrated into a larger and fuller body. Such is the self- 
sufficient group which St. Thomas (after Aristotle) calls the "per- 
fect community." It is the city-state {polls), the civitas, or better 
still the provincia, and best of all the kingdom. 

The difference between the perfect community and the others is 
not, as Plato thought, one of mere quantity; it is qualitative, as St. 
Thomas, following Aristotle, teaches. The perfect community is the 
goal toward which the other natural associations strive and in which 
they find their fulfillment. And that is one of the reasons why the 
state is "natural." For the Christian this naturally instituted process 
of moral edification which controls and regulates the production 
of economic goods is in turn subordinate to a third and higher in- 
terest: man's spiritual welfare, or the enjoyment of God, for the 
attainment of which the bonds of political society are indeed neces- 
sary but in no way sufficient. 

The promotion of the appropriate conditions of life in both 
the economic and the cultural sphere is, then, the purpose of the 
state. Herein lies the common good of man and his highest worldly 
end. As such it sets in motion our actions and should control our 
individual aspirations. Its demands justify the employment of all 
the varied means that are required for its attainment. Reason tells 
us what these subordinate tasks, these indispensable occupations 
are; nature furnishes the appropriate workers for them; authority 
must see to it that the right man is put in the right place. When 
this is done, we say that "order" has been introduced, which means 
that multiplicity has been reduced to unity, and that, consequently, 
action is possible within the sphere affected by the desire for the 
common end. "Society is obviously nothing else than the unifica- 



INTRODUCTION X] 

tion of men for the purpose of performing some one thing in com- 
mon," says St. Thomas.® 

The divine intention is primarily directed to the order and then 
to the components unified in it and by it. As St. Thomas says, "If 
we remove order from created things, we remove the best they 
have. For though the individual beings are good in themselves; 
joined, they rise to the highest goodness because of the order of 
the universe." ^^ Evil, on the authority of St. Augustine, is a con- 
dition that obtains when order is removed. An angel is superior 
to a stone. But a universe of angels and stones is better than one 
made solely of angels.^^ (Or, as one might say, a violin is better 
than a banjo. Yet an orchestra, with all sorts of instruments in- 
cluding the banjo, is preferable to an ensemble composed solely 
of violins.) The reason for this is "that the perfection of the uni- 
verse is obtained essentially through a diversification of natures, 
which natures, so diversified, fill the various ranks of goodness; it 
is not obtained through the plurification of the individuals in any 
of these given natures." ^^ The Angelic Doctor goes so far as to say: 

A universe in which there was no evil would not be of so great 
goodness as our actual one ; and this for the reason that there would 
not be in this assumed universe so many different good natures as 
there are in this present one, which contains both good natures 
free from evil as well as some conjoined with evil; and it is better 
to have the combination of both rather than to have one only.^* 



II. PUBLIC POWER 

1. The Ruler 

Order, then, comes into existence when a multiplicity of indi- 
viduals are brought together and so arranged that by thei?: united 
efforts a common end may be attained. But the "ordering" to- 
ward an end implies the action of a commanding authority. "In 

» CJ. iii. 10 C.G. iii. 69. " I Sent. 44.1.2.6. 

12 Ihid., 44.1.2.S. 1* Ibid., 44.1.2.6. 



XU THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 

every multitude there must be some governing power," according 
to St. Thomas: 

For where there are many men together and each one is looking 
after his own interest, the multitude would be broken up and 
scattered unless there were also an agency to take care of what 
appertains to the common weal. . . . Indeed it is reasonable that 
this should happen, for what is proper and what is common are 
not identical. Things differ by what is proper to each; they are 
united by what they have in common. But diversity of effects is 
due to diversity of causes. Consequently, there must exist some- 
thing which impels toward the particular good of each individual. 
Wherefore also in all things that are ordained toward one end, 
one thing is found to rule the rest.^ 

This applies pre-eminently to the order on whose existence all 
others depend, viz., the state, which Aristotle taught rests on the 
necessary relationship of "ruler and ruled." St. Augustine, too, as 
St. Thomas reminds us, had taught that men greedy for worldly 
goods were about to exterminate one another in their bloody com- 
petitions when by divine mercy it was permitted that "concord be 
established by means of a regime of commanding and obeying." ^ 
Today we still hear: "Obedience is the tie of human societies." ^ 
That this subordination to authority is in accord with the in- 
tentions of nature is shown by the fact that some men are born 
with a capacity for ruling, while others are endowed with apti- 
tudes for performing tasks under the direction of a commanding 
power. "Among men an order is found to exist, inasmuch as those 
who are superior by intellect are by nature rulers." * And the au- 
thority of St. Augustine is again adduced: "Ruling power is given 
by nature to the best." '^ This relationship of ruler and ruled is not 
the result of the Fall. It would have existed in the state of inno- 
cence.* Of course, the common goal aimed at by the ruler in the 
state of innocence would have been different from the actual one; 
the element of coercion would have been absent. "There would 
have been no need for protection, there being no hostility either 
internal or foreign, and no need of correcting transgressions, all 
ije.?. I, §§ 8-9, pp. 176-7. 2£)e civ. Dei xix. 17. 

8 Prevost-Paradol, La France Nouvelle, Ch. 4. * C.G. iii. 81. 

6 Contra lulianum iv. 61, * S. I, Q. 92, Aa. i, 2 ; Q. 96, Aa. 3, 4. 



INTRODUCTION Xlll 

men desiring the real good." "^ The ruler would not have been ex- 
pected to guarantee conditions for material subsistence (esse) nor 
for moral betterment (bene esse). The only use for a ruler would 
have been "to guide in active life and in the field of studies ac- 
cording as one was wiser and intellectually more enlightened than 
another." ^ 

Because of the Fall this spontaneous adherence to Order could 
not be maintained. The regime of concupiscentia, the lex jomitis, 
made coercion necessary. The authority over spontaneously obedi- 
ent men was replaced by a power of making laws and of compelling 
observance through penalties: loss of property, liberty, life. This 
dread power imposes itself not only because of necessity but also 
and above all because it is authorized by God. Political power is 
divinely instituted. St. Paul proclaims this: "All power comes from 
God." ® His divine commission, which transforms what would other- 
wise be brute force into just power, creates the public person ^® with 
unique attributes; to it belongs the exercise of the publica, suprema 
potestas}^ No one else may inflict major punishment on a human 
being. The words of St. Augustine admonish us: "He who, without 
being authorized by the governing power, kills a malefactor shall 
be adjudged to be a murderer, and this all the more because he 
did not hesitate to usurp a power that God had not given him." 
This text was incorporated in the canon law.^^ 

The doctrine of the divine origin of power must not be inter- 
preted to mean that St. Thomas looked upon the state as existing 
in virtue of divine law. The state is an organization that rests on 
human law. "Dominium," he says, "was introduced by ius gentium, 
which is a human law." ^* Power comes from God, but the various 
political formations which are made possible by the exercise of this 
power are the result of natural law, for the state is natural. St. 
Thomas here says that it is by ius gentium, giving to this word the 

711 Sent. 44.1.3. ^Ibid. » Rom. xiii. 1. 

1® For public power and public person, cf. S. II-II, Q. 65, A. i. 

11 For plenaria potestas of the sovereign, cf. S. II-II, Q. 67, A. 4 

12 Can. quicumque percusserit, causa 23, qu. 8. 

13 Cf. S. II-II, Q. 12; A. 2. That dominion here has to do with political con- 
trol and not with the rights of a master over his slave is made clear by the 
context of the passage {subditis fidelibus, etc.). 



Xiv THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 

sense which it has elsewhere, viz., of a rational elaboration of the 
principles of natural law, valid for all humanity and not too far 
removed from the original proposition.^^ 

What St. Thomas means when he speaks of this divine origin 
of power may be clarified by the following. There are, he says, 
three factors involved in power: first, the manner of acquisition; 
secondly, the use to which it is put; thirdly, the mode or jorm}^ 
This last one is always blameless. Formally, we are told, all power 
is good and comes from God, for it consists of a certain order con- 
necting someone who rules with someone who is subject to this 
rule.^® Therefore, when we speak absolutely and unrestrictedly, 
we say that power, as such, is good, because a thing in its unre- 
stricted absoluteness is judged on the basis of what is formal in 
it.^^ But if we proceed to examine what relationships may affect 
this absolute goodness, we discover that they proceed from one 
or the other of the remaining two factors: either the "manner of 
acquisition" or "the use to which power is put." This "manner" 
(the origin) may be bad (and therefore not divine) in two ways: 
either because of the unworthiness of the ruler or because of the 
illicit practices (violence, simony, etc.) resorted to in the acquisi- 
tion of it.^^ The latter vitiates the competence of the ruler so com- 
pletely that "his power under these circumstances should be dis- 
owned as soon as the opportunity for so doing presents itself." ^® 
The former does not justify disobedience, "for inasmuch as power 
formally is always from God and creates the obligation of obedi- 
ence, subjects are held to obey rulers even though unworthy." As 
for the third factor, St. Thomas teaches that the abuse of power 
is twofold: first, if a command is given "contrary to that for which 
power was instituted, as when a ruler enjoins practices destruc- 
tive of those very virtues for the upholding of which power was 
ordained." ^^ Here disobedience is obligatory. Secondly, if a com- 

14 Cf. 5. 1-II, Q. 94, A. s ad 3, pp. 52 f. 

15 II Sent. 44.1.2; 44.2.2. ^^Ibid. 

I'^That is: a man, absolutely speaking, because of his form (the rational 

soul) is a reasoning animal, which does not mean that he is exempt from 

irrationality. 

18 U Sent., loc. cit. 19 Ibid. 20 ibid. 



INTRODUCTION XV 

mand transcends the sphere of a given authority, in which case 
neither obedience nor disobedience is required. 

Power is given by God to the ruler in order that he may realize 
justice on earth. In fact, we find that in the Middle Ages people 
looked upon the king as the person entrusted with "the mainte- 
nance of order and peace through justice." ^^ 

As custodian of justice, the ruler is or may be the legislator, the 
executor of the law, or the supreme judge. 

a) The extent of the legislative power of the ruler depends 
naturally on the nature of the political regime. St. Thomas con- 
siders the case of "a free multitude which can legislate for itself" 
in contrast to one which is not free to do so. In the first instance 
the people (multitudo) as a whole may make laws or they may 
authorize the sovereign to do so, in which case the latter "has the 
power of legislating only in so far as he bears the person of the 
multitude." ^^ This representative role of the legislative sovereign 
may be set forth thus: commands which are essential to the 
political order are not actions of the sovereign will on the will of 
the subjects; they are directed to their reason and therefore take 
the form of rational propositions. These propositions properly 
formulated are what we call laws and as such are necessary for the 
"ordering" to the common good. But the ordering of anything to- 
ward the common good belongs- either to the whole people or to 
someone who is the vicegerent of the whole people (gerentis vicem 
totius multitudinis) ?^ The ruler is "vicegerent." But when the 
definition is narrowed down to the more precise legislative termi- 
nology, we find that the representative aspect of the legislating 
prince is attenuated. Instead of being a vicegerent, we find that 
the ruler acts as guardian of the community. Says St. Thomas: 
"The making of a law belongs either to the whole people or to a 
public person who has care {curam habet) of the whole people." ^* 
The representative character of the legislator is further obscured in 

21 Cf. Luchaire's statement that monarchy rested on the belief "that God 
instituted kingship so that rulers might render justice to men and establish 
peace, which is their first and most essential duty." Histoire des Institutions 
Monarchiques de la France sous les premiers Capitiens. I. 40 (Paris, 1883). 

22 S. MI, Q. 97, A. 3 ad 3, p. 83. 

2^ Ibid., Q. 90, A. 3, pp. 7-8. 24 Ibid, 



XVI THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 

the article that follows (A. 4), where no mention is found of alter- 
nate possibilities, law being made to proceed solely from the one 
who is in charge of the community. And, finally, in the first article 
of the following Question (91) even the references to the cur a are 
omitted, and law is defined as a "dictate of practical reason emanat- 
ing from the ruler who governs a perfect community." 

This definition is the one to which St. Thomas normally re- 
sorted, so that its formulation cannot be considered merely casual. 
It is essential to human law, he tells us, that "it be framed by that 
one who governs the community" (a gubernante civitatis)?^ 

b) The ruler is not only the lawmaker; he is also and above all 
the judge, the supreme judicial authority. 

The person who delivers a judicial sentence interprets the wording 
of the law by applying this wording to a particular case. But both 
the interpretation of the law (which is the judicial act) and the 
making of it pertain to the same person. Therefore just as a law 
can be made only by a power which is public, so a judicial sen- 
tence must be rendered by public authority .^^ 

The significance of the judicial function of the ruler was extended 
to other phases of jurisdiction: 

Judicial orders are not only those which refer to litigations, but 
also all those that pertain to social relations {ad ordinationem 
hominum ad invicem), which matter is under the control of the 
ruler in his quality of supreme judge.^'^ 

It was as judge, then, that the ruler exercised that unique and 
sacred function which might necessitate the destruction of life, 
limb, and property and the deprivation of liberty whenever such 
action was deemed necessary to uphold justice. That which for a 
private person is murder, theft, or extortion becomes in certain 
circumstances a praiseworthy act when performed by one who, 
ruling a perfect community, is vested with a public power which, 
being "perfect," is "plenary." ^^ 

c) The ruler, who is under the obligation to protect the common 

2155. I-II, Q. 95, A. 4, pp. 62-64. 

28 S. II-II, Q. 60, A. 6; cf. Q. 67, A. i. 

275. I-II, Q. 104, A. I. 

« Cf. S. II-II, Q. 6s, A. 2 ; Q. 66, A. 8, pp. 139-41 ; Q- 67, A. 4. 



INTRODUCTION XVU 

good from the assaults of a foreign enemy, has the right and duty 
to resort to the necessary measures of war. The nature of his power 
authorizes the destruction of life and property, provided the war 
is just.^^ An offensive war is just when three conditions are com- 
plied with. First, it must be declared by the sovereign. Private 
persons may not wage war, and this for two reasons. In the first 
place, war is resorted to only when there is no higher authority 
to which the contestants may submit their conflicting claims. In 
the case of private persons this does not obtain, for there is over 
them a superior authority qualified to judge their controversies. 
Secondly, war demands the levying of a multitude of men, and 
this can be done only by one who is in charge of the multitude, 
hence by no private individual .^'^ 

The second condition is a just cause. Those who are attacked 
must, because of some fault of their own, have deserved the aggres- 
sion. St. Thomas here restates the argument endorsed by St. Au- 
gustine: 

A just war is usually defined as one by which a wrong is righted, 
viz., when a state or a nation is attacked because it neglected to 
punish some crimes committed by one of its members or when it 
failed to make restitution of something that had been unjustly 
seized.^^ 

The third condition is the maintenance of righteous intentions 
on the part of those who have declared war, viz., that the purpose 
of war is to lay the foundations of a better and more lasting peace. 
For it may well be that a war has a just cause according to the 
above definition and that it has been declared and is being waged 
by the supreme political power, which was the other condition 
set, yet it is made iniquitous by the evil intentions entertained by 
the attacking power. What these evil intentions are St. Thomas 
tells us in the words of St. Augustine: 

They are a desire to harm the enemy more than the conduct of 
hostilities demands, a spirit of revenge, implacability, recourse to 
destructive practices that fit beasts better than men, and finally 
lust of supremacy .^2 

29 Cf. Ibid., Q. 66, A. 8. 30 cf. 5. I-II, Q. 40, A. i. 

3^ QuaesHo in Heptateuchon, 10. 32 Contra Faust, xxii. 70. 



XVIU THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 

d) It is true, then, that the ruler of a state which is a perfect com- 
munity has a perfect (complete) power of coercion, and therefore 
he may inflict irreparable penalties, such as death and mutilation. 
But neither the slave master nor the pater familias, for the protec- 
tion of the estate or of the household, can avail himself of the pre- 
rogative of public power. The power over slaves and the power over 
family are determined on the basis of ius dominativum and ius 
paternum, respectively, both of which are subordinate to the ius 
politicum by which public power operates. A sentence of death 
and or confiscation issuing from these subordinate powers is, there- 
fore, plain murder and theft. 

A father or a master in charge of a family or of an estate, which 
are imperfect communities, has an imperfect coercive power. He 
may inflict lighter penalties which do not carry with them an ir- 
reparable harm, such as, for example, whipping.^* 

Also: 

And just as one may by public power be lawfully deprived of life 
because of major crimes, so he is liable because of minor crimes 
to be deprived of limb. This, however, a private person may not 
do, not even with the consent of the possessor of the limb, because 
of the harm that thereby results to the community.^* 

e) The political order is, then, the rule of justice. The prince is 
expected to govern by laws, and these laws must be just; that is, 
they cannot be the arbitrary expression of a will, either individual 
or collective, but rather the rational deduction from principles of 
justice imparted by God to man; the nature of their content con- 
ditions their validity. In view of this, how does St. Thomas deal 
with the two formulas of Roman law so often invoked in his day 
which seem to contradict flatly the two conditions above referred 
to? These two formulas are: first, "Whatever the prince wants 
[whatever his pleasure may be] has the vigor of law"; ^^ and, 
secondly, "The prince is not bound by laws." (He is above the 
law.) 2^ 

335. II-II,-Q. 65, A. 2 ad 2. ^^Ibid., A. i aiid A. 2 ad 2. 

35 "Quod principi placuit legis habet vigorem" (Digest i.4.1). 
36"Princeps legibus solutxis" (ibid., i.3.31). 



INTRODUCTION XIX 

These maxims could not be ignored or waved aside. They had 
intrigued political writers of all generations. They seemed to lead 
to an impasse; for, on the one hand, no Christian could deny that 
in som.e form or other positive law must derive from natural law 
and conform to divine law; and, on the other hand, it seemed 
difficult to repudiate norms which, though pagan in origin, had 
received the full sanction of Christian jurisprudence. The force 
of the autocratic formulas was further strengthened by imperial 
affirmations such as those of Justinian: "God subordinated all 
laws to the imperial sway (fortuna imperialis) in that He himself 
sent to mankind the Emperor as a living law." ^' And this animate 
law, he tells us, was providentially given because of the insuf- 
ficiency of inanimate legislation. Since human nature constantly 
varies, he said, rigid legislation would soon become antiquated un- 
less a man divinely prepared were on hand to adapt it to the new 
circumstances.^® 

Refusal to accept the doctrine that the ruler is above the law was 
felt to encounter this dilemma: either the ruler binds himself or 
he is bound by others. The first is not possible because a man may, 
indeed, bind himself by a vow or by a pledge, but cannot constrain 
himself legally. A law, it was pointed out, is the creation or rather 
the effect of a governing power and, as Aristotle teaches, such a 
power is the principle of ruling another qua other. A legal injunc- 
tion presupposes a jurisdiction, and no man can have jurisdiction 
over himself except in a metaphorical sense. Coercion, implicit in 
the enforcement of law, demands two distinct parties: one which 
does the coercing, and one which suffers it; the agent, it was said, 
must be a different person from the patient. The ruler cannot appear 
in the double role of sovereign and subject. 

The second alternative was not tenable, given the nature of 
supreme power, which admits of no control. 

In facing this problem St. Thomas tried to reconcile the political 
with the moral side of the question. The supreme power of the 
ruler is indeed beyond the control of the subjects. They have no 
way of compelling him to respect the law. But supreme power is 

^T Novella 105.4. 
38 Digest, Preface ii. 



XX THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 

not beyond the contrpl of God, who brings the sovereign to a volun- 
tary observance of this (the human) law. 

The explanation which he gives ^^ is the one that the Church has 
for a long time made its own. The law, he said, binds the sovereign 
by its directive, not by its coercive power. And by "coercive," he 
means a capacity of compelling obedience by punitive sanctions; 
and by "directive," a power which human law derives from eternal 
law and which makes it capable of creating obligations in the 
forum of conscience. 

Coercion, he tells us, cannot be practiced at the level of sov- 
ereignty, because it would result in the last analysis in self-coercion, 
which, as it was said above, is not possible. From his wording, one 
gathers that he did not hold, as many did, that a ruler's exemption 
from law observance was simply a de facto matter, viz., that the 
reason why a ruler is not bound by law is merely the fact that 
there is no one to carry out a sentence delivered against him. On 
the contrary, for him the exemption is de iure; and the impos- 
sibility exists not in the executing of a sentence but in the making 
of it; for eventually the sovereign, being the supreme judge of the 
land, would have to judge his own case, and as all know, no man 
can be a judge in his own cause. Moreover, what could be the sense 
of a judgment that would forever remain inert? 

Another force is tnerefore needed to make the ruler respect his 
laws (and those which he has inherited and accepted) ; a force that 
tomes into existence when a properly formulated proposition of 
practical reason acquires that majesty that transforms it into a 
law. God, by whose authority this transformation is effected, has 
implanted in us the invincible conviction that the power to coerce, 
which He gives, implies an obligation on the part of the coercer to 
respect voluntarily that which he compels others to observe. Hence 
the power which law has to coerce subjects can never be dissoci- 
ated from the power it has to make the ruler abide by it.*" This 
latter power is exercised in our conscience by a voluntary submis- 
sion to God, the author of this power, which, as we said, is called 
"directive"; and there is no difficulty here, for though a man can- 
not coerce himself, he is quite capable of directing himself. 
89 5. 1-II, Q. 96, A. s od 3, p. 74. 40 Ibid. 



INTRODUCTION XXI 

The nature of this directive power requires a few words of ex- 
planation. The fact that a rational proposition can be made into 
an instrument whereby one or more individuals can dispose of the 
life, liberty, and property of their fellow men proves, people 
thought, that the power to do this — the public power that legislates 
— has its origin in God. Human law can do all it does because it 
is an emanation of eternal law. The condition which God imposes 
on society in bestowing upon it the benefit of law is that all, with- 
out distinction, accept the conditions that accompany it. The pro- 
mulgation of a just law postulates the tacit acceptance of its 
provisions on the part of everybody. This, it was said, is a basic 
principle that all men discover in the depths of their conscience, 
and which lends to law its directive power. 

For the greater protection of society, law is furnished with the 
other power, that of coercing, and this one, as was said, is applicable 
to all except the sovereign legislator. 

It was stated above that this power of creating, in everybody, the 
directive obligation of law observance is communicated to positive 
law by eternal law. How is this done? The answer is: just as eternal 
law imprints itself on human law by the medium of natural law, so 
it is through natural law that the moral obligation which bids all 
men observe the human law comes before the tribunal of conscience. 
The question now is: which one of the precepts that natural reason 
dictates to man is at the basis of this universal validity? 

Caietan, in his commentary to the text of St. Thomas above 
quoted, says that it is the command to do to others what we would 
have others do to us, and that therefore a ruler must not impose on 
others a law which he does not want applied to himself. Suarez 
thought this was not correct, and suggested the one which, coupled 
with its correlative, must be postulated for the existence of the 
political association. This inborn principle of the political animal 
says to the ruler: "Respect the law you make," and says to the 
subject: "The superior must be obeyed." ^^ This is the natural law 
precept which St. Thomas adduces to show the validity of the 

■*1 De legibus iii. 35. 6. Of course, the directive power of law is entirely dif- 
ferent from the vis ostensiva, such power as the Laws of both Plato and 
Cicero might have. 



XXU THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 

directive power of law. He finds confirmation of it in divine law 
(Matthew 23) and points to its embodiment in canon law. He 
also hints at the universality of it by quoting the maxim of an old 
Sage.*2 Of course this holds only when the matter and the ratio of 
a law are the same in the ruler and the ruled. Prohibition to carry 
weapons, therefore, cannot obligate the king. But the law of just 
price does. 

The significance of the natural law precept above stated was 
shown thus: A law establishes a medium of some virtue as a step 
toward the common good. So, e.g., the law that regulates the price 
of goods fixes a means within the sphere of justice. The transgres- 
sion of this medium is a repudiation of justice and therefore a sin. 
And sinning is not more tolerable in a ruler than it is in a subject. 

The solution we find in St. Thomas was kept alive by subsequent 
jurists and theologians; Bossuet restates it in this form: "Kings 
are then, like everybody else, subject to the equity of the laws . . . 
but they are not subject to the penalties of the laws, or, to speak 
the language of theology, their submission is not to their coercive 
but to their directive power." ** 

The following objection might be raised: supposing the sov- 
ereign had not made a given law; he would then have been free to 
act without any consideration of the principle which eventually 
came to be incorporated in that law. This argument was met thus: 
eternal law, through its participant, natural law, is constantly 
acting on human reason so as to improve steadily the quality of 
legislation (St. Thomas accepts the doctrine of progress in law- 
making^^). Eternal law is then one element; the other is the will 
of the legislator. The sovereign is not obliged to improve his code, 
but once he decides to do so and he issues a new law, then by virtue 
of the conditions above described and which attend to the forma- 
tion of all laws, he binds himself to accept the directive power of 
the law he has made. 

St. Thomas adds that the sovereign shows that he is above the 

42 Dionysius Cato. 

43 Politique tirie des propres paroles de I' £criture Sainte, Book IV, art. i, 
prop. 21. 

445. 1-II,Q, 97,A. i,pp. 78fE. 



INTRODUCTION XXUl 

law by the fact that he can change it. But again in its changed 
form he is obliged by its directive power to observe it. 

The other statement, viz., that the will of the sovereign has the 
force of law, is explained by St. Thomas with the proviso that the 
will has this force when it is regulated by reason ; which means that 
in the last resort the legislator, through a process of valid ratiocina- 
tion based on the principles of natural law, must connect his enact- 
ments with eternal law. One must, of course, always recall that for 
St. Thomas the worst of all laws is preferable to anarchy. 

2. Law 

St. Thomas has left us a detailed treatise on law, embodied in 
those Questions of the First Part of the Second Part of the Summa 
which are here reprinted.^ The problem comes up again in the 
Second Part of the Second Part, the relevant Questions of which 
are also included in this edition.^ A comparison of the two is very 
illuminating, particularly in view of the disagreements to be found 
in them. In the first, St. Thomas is interested in deriving morality 
and legality from eternal law. In the latter, his intention is more 
juridical. He strives hard to present a theory that will embody 
Aristotle's teachings and, at the same time, reconcile some of the 
well-known contrasts in the field of law, especially natural law. 

By demonstrating that a ruler must govern in accordance with 
laws and that the laws of a state must be derived from natural 
law, or at least must not go counter to them, St. Thomas pro- 
claims that legality is conditioned by morality and that moral 
conduct is indeed action regulated by reason, but a reason that 
is aware that it must, if it will exist, proceed from principles which 
God has implanted in the soul of man — of every man — viz., the 
fundamental, inescapable principles of practical reason which con- 
stitute what is called natural law. 

Natural law is the source of the norms of moral virtues,^ but has 

1 Pp. 3 ff. 2 Pp. 92 ff. 

3 "Virtues perfect us as to the proper prosecution of the natural inclinations 
which pertain to natural law, and so for every natural inclination there is 
a properly ordered special virtue" (5. II-II, Q. io8, A. 2). 



Xxiv THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 

a distinct significance for a particular one of them, viz., justice, the 
social virtue par excellence, the precepts of which, properly formu- 
lated and promulgated, constitute the civil codes of the various 
states. 



III. FORMS OF GOVERNMENT 

Political differentiation in states is the outcome of different 
numerical relationships between ruler and ruled. ^ Of these only 
three are considered, viz., those relations or ratios of ruler to ruled 
in which the numerator is one, a few, or many.^ The "many" may 
become "all." This classification is doubled by introducing a quali- 
tative criterion: goodness — a government being good when it con- 
cerns itself with the common good and bad when it aims at private 
advantages.^ The good government of a single man is called king- 
ship, the bad one tyranny; the good government of the few, aris- 
tocracy, the bad, oligarchy; the good government of the many is 
timocracy or politia,^ the bad, democracy (in the special Aris- 
totelian sense ).^ 

But the quantitative distinctions named above turn out to be 
accidental and derived — the outcome of something more funda- 

1 In Pol. iii. 6. 2 jjjid., ii. 7 ; In Eth. viii. 10. 3 /„ pol_ [{[, 6. 

4 St. Thomas, following Aristotle, uses this word in two principal senses. 
One, the generic, means "forms of government." Our word "regime," par- 
ticularly in its broader sense, seems better suited than "constitution," which 
is often used as the English equivalent. The "ordo of the civitas" {ibid., iv. 
10) which is the relation between ruler and subjects, determines the form 
of government. So, therefore, politia is also defined as "ordo of the rulers" 
{ibid., iv. 12) or again as "ordinatio of the civitas in relation to all ruling 
powers but especially to the principal one," i.e., the government {ibid., iii. 
S). The form of government determines the nature of the entire community: 
"it is the life of the state" {ibid., iv. 3), so much so that "when the politia 
is changed, one cannot say that the civitas remains the same" {ibid., iii. 2). 
The second meaning is that of a particular form of government: the good 
popular government in contrast with democratia, which is the bad. It was in 
this sense that, in the thirteenth century, the word "politicus" came to be 
used as the opposite of "despotic." 
^R.P. I, § II, p. 178. 



INTRODUCTION XXV 

mental.^ What essentially differentiates one state from another is 
the end or goal toward which a government strives. Of these ends 
there are three: wealth, virtue, liberty. The wealthy, given the 
nature of the economic urge, almost always concentrate in a small 
group; they happen to form usually a numerically insignificant 
minority. When this group succeeds in gaining power, they form 
a government which, because of their very aspirations, must be 
bad (self-seeking) and which, because of the paucity of numbers, 
is called oligarchy, even though the characteristic feature is eco- 
nomic egoism rather than numbers. The virtuous too are few; 
because of their very virtue, when they rise to power they concern 
themselves with the common good as justice demands. If this small 
minority dwindles down to unity, the regime that comes into ex- 
istence is called kingship, provided that the ruler is a virtuous 
man. Otherwise we have a tyranny. 

A majority rule, therefore, cannot be the outcome of triumphant 
zeal for virtue or greed for wealth, but comes into existence when 
power falls into the hands of those who strive primarily for free- 
dom.'^ Liberty in a state means self-government, which exists 
when all subjects in turn may be rulers,^ so that the basis of free- 
dom is political equality, implying a control by the poor, who are 
by far the most numerous. If this popular regime aims at the 
public good (in which the interests of the wealthy must play a 
part), then the form of government is timocracy; but if the regime 
of liberty becomes domination by the populace, then we have what 
has been called democracy^ 

On the basis of these three fundamental aspirations, it is pos- 
sible to establish a standard of value for each regime. As we saw 
above, the dignity or excellence of a citizen in an aristocracy and 
in a kingdom is measured by the practice of virtue, in an oligarchy 
by financial success, in a democracy by devotion to freedom. ^^ 

These types are in no way fixed and immovable. Whatever the 

^ In Pol. iii. 6; iv. 2. 

■^ The difficulty with the regime of freedom is that the citizens, having secured 

political equality, tend to claim absolute equality. Cf. In Eth. v. 2. 

8/n Pol. i. 10. ^RJ'. I, § II, p. 178; In Eth. viii. 10. 

"5. II-II, Q. 61, A. 2. 



XXVI THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 

qualities of each may be, we find gradations that tend to destroy 
the rigidity of the tj^e. Tyranny, for example, can be more or 
less severe; and because of these variations it is possible to say 
both that it is and that it is not the worst of all regimes.^^ 



1. The Best Regime 

A most important task of the political writers of antiquity and 
of their disciples in the Middle Ages was to determine the best 
form of government (the optima civitas). And naturally the 
question inmiediately arose: best for whom? St. Thomas was 
well aware of something that is still often forgotten, viz., that a 
political regime must be suitable to the cultural or moral level of 
the people concerned. In 5. I-II, Q. 97, A. i, he quotes approv- 
ingly this passage from St. Augustine: 

If the people have a sense of moderation and responsibility and 
are most careful guardians of the common weal, it is right to en- 
act a law allowing such a people to choose their own magistrates 
for the government of the commonwealth. But if, as time goes on, 
the same people become so corrupt as to sell their votes and en- 
trust the government to scoundrels and criminals, then the right 
of appointing their public officials is rightly forfeit to such a peo- 
ple, and the choice devolves to a few good men.^ 

Circumstances, too, play an important role; a given regime 
which has been declared inferior to another from an absolute 
point of view becomes, under certain conditions, superior to it. So 
oligarchy, which is theoretically better than any kind of tyranny, 
becomes less desirable when the community is threatened by dis- 
ruption, because, by its greater unity, the tyrannical rule, with all 
its vices, is better suited to stave off anarchy, which is the worst 
possible evil.^ 

Of this kind of relativism we find many evidences in St. Thomas, 
for he looks upon human conditions realistically and is convinced 

11 RT. I §§ 21 ff. and 36 ff., pp. 181 ff., 186 ff 

iP. 79 (De lib. arb.i. 6). 

2 Provided, of course, the tyrant does not completely crush his subjects 

{ibid.). 



INTRODUCTION XXVH 

that the majority of men are not the material out of which the 
ideal state can be built. Not reason, but egoistic self-indulgence 
controls the actions of great numbers of citizens.^ 

In general, monarchy is the best form of government. The rea- 
son for this is stated repeatedly: 

The best regime of a community is government by one person, 
which is made evident if we recall that the end for which a gov- 
ernment exists is the maintenance of peace. Peace and unity of 
subjects is the goal of the ruler. But unity is more congruently the 
effect of one than of majiy.^ 

And again: 

Now the welfare and safety of a multitude formed into a society 
lies in the preservation of its unity, which is called peace. If this 
is removed, the benefit of social life is lost and, moreover, the mul- 
titude in its disagreement becomes a burden to itself. The chief 
concern of the ruler of a multitude, therefore, is to procure the 
unity of peace. , . . Now it is manifest that what is itself one 
can more efficaciously bring about unity than a group of several. 
. . . Therefore the rule of one man is more useful than the rule of 
many.^ 

The state, too, must be one. But its unity is established by 
order which, because of social exigencies, demands diversities.* 
These diversities, of course, imply inequalities, as we saw above. 
In the monarchical rule an essential inequality is to be found in 
the very great superiority of the king: "A man cannot truly be 

3 "The majority of people follow the inclinations of sensuous nature rather 
than the order of reason" (5. I-II, Q. 71, A. 2 ad 3). 
"The people for the most part fail to use reason" {In Pol. iv. 13). 
"Now human law is framed for a number of human beings, the majority of 
whom are not perfect in virtue" (5. I-II, Q. 96, A. 2, p. 68). 
4C.G. iv. 76. ^R-P- I. § 17. PP- 179-80. 

6 "Every perfect whole in natural things turns out to be constituted of 
specifically different parts. Since the state is a perfect whole, it must consist 
of parts which differ among themselves specifically" {In Pol. ii. i). There- 
fore, complete unity destroys the state: "If the unity of a state progressed 
beyond a certain point, the state would become a household; and if the 
unity of the household proceeded too far, it would turn into one individual" 
{ibid.). 



XXVIU THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 

said to be king if he is not in himself equal to the task of ruling, 
which means that he must be super-excellent in all good endow- 
ments of mind and body and of external belongings." '^ Monarchy 
is a "regime in which one person excels and the others are by na- 
ture ^ constituted to obey." ® This immense superiority is pri- 
marily a moral one. "It is necessary that the king differ naturally 
from his subjects through the possession of a certain greatness of 
goodness." ^^ A kingly power would be unjustly exercised if the 
monarch were not "morally perfect" and if, in the exercise of his 
virtue, he differed from his subjects only quantitatively.^^ The 
specific kingly virtue is prudence, "which is found both in the 
ruler and in the subjects. But in the ruler as though in the archi- 
tect; in the subjects as though in the hand-laborers." ^^ 

It is obvious that conditions are not always favorable to this 
state of affairs. There are, moreover, inherent disadvantages in a 
monarchical regime: 

For it frequently happens that men living under a king strive 
more sluggishly for the common good, inasmuch as they consider 
that what they devote to the common good, they do not confer 
upon themselves but upon another, under whose power they see 
the common goods to be. But when they see that the common 
good is not under the power of one man, they do not attend to it 
as if it belonged to another, but each one attends to it as if it 
were his own.^* 

And this argument is strengthened by an example drawn from 
contemporary life: 

Experience thus teaches that one city administered by rulers 
changing annually is sometimes able to do more than some kings 
having, perchance, two or three cities; and small services exacted 

7/n Eth. viii. lo. 

8 It must be recalled that nature sees to it that the needed farmers, philoso- 
phers, soldiers, etc., be always at hand: "The distribution of these functional 
aptitudes is done primarily by divine providence, but secondarily by natural 
causes, in virtue of which one man is better suited for one thing than for 
another" (C./. ii. 31). 

9 In Pol. iii. 9. 

10 Ihid., i. 10. 11 Ibid. 

125. II-II, Q. 47, A. 12. 13/fJ'. I, §31, p. 18S. 



INTRODUCTION XXIX 

by kings weigh more heavily than great burdens imposed by the 
community of citizens. ^^ 

A monarchical regime, moreover, fails to satisfy the natural 
ambition of people: "If a man of high value is the sole ruler, the 
many people who are deprived of the distinction of power resent 
it, and this resentment is the cause of dissension." ^^ And dis- 
sension was for St. Thomas the worst political evil. 

Both the monarchical and the aristocratic regime are defective 
in that they fail to take advantage of the fact that, good though 
an elite may be, it is never as good as the whole community which 
comprises, as one of its parts, the same elite. This fundamental 
consideration which St. Thomas encountered in commenting on 
the Politics of Aristotle^® was to guide him in his choice of the 
best practical form of government. 

2. The Mixed Government 

The theoretically superior regime of monarchy can be main- 
tained in practice provided certain conditions are met and certain 
difficulties obviated: first, the aspiration of all people to liberty 
and equality, which manifests itself in the claim to participate in 
public life. This is so strong that refusal to satisfy it may bring 
about dissension, which evil must be avoided at all costs: 

In the earthly states ... the variety and the abundance of pub- 
lic functions and roles helps to preserve the unity, because through 
them a great number of people are enabled to take part in public 
activities.^ 

A way must be found, therefore, to make the people feel that they 
have a stake in the public good. Secondly, the advantages of the 
kingly rule must not be impaired by the ever-suspended threat 
of relapse into tyrannical abuses. To avoid this the monarchy 

^'^Ibid., § 32; but cf. § 20, pp. 180-81: "This is also evident from experience. 
For provinces or cities which are not ruled by one person are torn with 
dissensions and tossed about without peace. ... On the other hand, prov- 
inces and cjties which are ruled under one king enjoy peace, flourish in 
justice, and delight in prosperity." ^^ In Pol. iii. 8, et passim. 

16 Ibid., iu. 14. 1 5. II-II, Q. 183, A. 2. 



XXX THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 

must be made "temperate" (temperetur potestas)? The solution 
was found by instituting a form of government in which the king's 
power would be limited and the people's desire satisfied. That form 
of government is what is called the "mixed regime." 

The idea of fusing the main governmental forms goes back to 
classical days. Aristotle speaks of it and mentions the plan of some 
who deemed that all three forms should be compounded into one, 
and cited the example of Sparta.^ Polybius further developed the 
idea,* but it was Cicero who gave it its widest scope. In the first 
book of De republica, he makes Scipio observe that the three 
above-named regimes tend regularly to degenerate ° and to follow 
a cyclical course,® and that therefore, to avoid relapses and re- 
courses, a fourth kind of governmental rule, composed of the said 
three, should be devised.'^ He makes Laelius say that the com- 
pound form is best, in that it embodies the caritas of the king, 
the consilium of the aristocracy, and the Ubertas of the popular 
regime.^ Rome, of course, exemplified this threefold conflatum 
regime by its consuls, its senate, and its comitia of the p^ople.^ 

It is difficult to say where St. Thomas got the idea of the mixed 
regime. In substance it is very close to Cicero's. He claims, how- 
ever, that it is a generalization of what was formerly put into 
practice by the Hebrews: 

For Moses and his successors governed the people in such a way 
that each of them was ruler over all, so that there was a kind of 
kingdom. Moreover, seventy-two men were chosen, who were elders 

2 RJ>. I, Ch. VI, pp. 188 £f. The word "moderatum" is also used. Cf. R.P. 
II, Ch. VIII, and Cicero, De repub. i. 29 (45): "moderatum et F>ermixtum." 
The two attributes, "moderate" and "temperate," had already been joined 
by classical authors. 

3 Pol. u. 6. 4 Hist, vi.i.3.3.8.9. 

*> "iter ad finitimum quoddam malum praeceps ac lubricum" {De repub. 

i. 29). 

8 "orbes et quasi circuitus in rebus publicis commutationum et vicissitu- 

dinum" {ibid.). '^"moderatum et permixtum tribus" {ibid.). 

^Ibid., i. 35 (55). How this regime was to be organized we are told in 5. 

I-II, Q. los, A. I, pp. 86 ff, 

^ Ibid., i. 32 (56). Venice, too, claimed that its government was a fusion 

of the three basic forms, with the regal power in the Doge, the aristocratic 

in the Senate, and the democratic in the greater Council. 



INTRODUCTION XXXI 

in virtue ... so that there was an element of aristocracy. But 
it was a democratical government in so far as the rulers were 
chosen from all the people.^^ 

3. Tyranny 

In treating ot tyranny and of the justification of tyrannicide, 
a question often discussed in antiquity and brought to the fore 
again by John of Salisbury, St. Thomas moves very cautiously 
and, as usual, is more concerned with the stability of the state 
than with the upholding of individual political rights. 

In the Commentary to the Sentences he seems to countenance 
tyrannicide by what might be looked upon as a partial approval 
of a statement of Cicero, He says: 

Cicero here considers the case in which power was seized by an act 
of violence either against the will of the subjects or with a con- 
sent which was wrested by coercion, and in conditions such that 
no recourse could be had to a higher authority capable of passing 
judgment on the usurper. In these circumstances he who kills the 
tyrant in order to free his country is praised and rewarded.^ 

But such extreme measures proved to be not to his liking. He 
could not of course accept the doctrine that rulers are always 
right, that the king can do no wrong. So when he came to face 
the problem raised by St. .Paul in his Epistle to the Romans: 
"Princes are not a terror to good works but to the evil," ^ he hesi- 
tates between two interpretations: one, aiming at a doctrine that 
did not acquiesce in extreme resignation, is, from the point of view 
of the exegesis, somewhat daring. "Princes," he says, ^^are not in- 
stituted to be a terror, etc." ; and later, "to be a terror to the good 
is not part of a Prince's function," ^ Realizing perhaps that this 
interpretation, though very acceptable from one point of view, 
was doing violence to the text and was departing from the old 
tradition, he fell back on the accepted explanation. Bad rulers, 
for such no doubt exist, cannot terrorize the good, for, 

although they at times unjustly persecute the well-doers, yet the 
latter have no cause to fear, because the harm they suffer, if they 

105. I-II, Q. los, A, I, p. 88, III Sent. 2,2.2,5, 

2 Rom, xiii, 3. 8 /» £^, ad Rom. xiii, i. 



XXXU THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 

will but patiently bear it, will turn out to their advantage, in ac- 
cordance with the First Epistle of St. Peter: "But if also you 
suffer anything for justice's sake, blessed are ye." * Thus it may 
be seen why those who resist power bring upon themselves con- 
demnation, whether it is that which is inflicted by rulers upon 
rebels or that by which God punishes men.'^ 

Bad kings, he concludes, come into the world with God's consent, 
to punish the wicked and test the good. 

When, however, St. Thomas came to discuss the situation from 
a more political point of view, he suggested measures which are in 
line with his constant practice of stressing above all the conserva- 
tion of the state and of discouraging any acts that might result 
in a revolution. He feared that removal of a tyrant might bring 
about fatal dissensions among the people and possibly give rise 
to some worse kind of tyrannical rule. His practical suggestions as 
to how to deal with the matter are the following: 

If tyranny is not too oppressive, the subjects should put up 
with it for the reasons above stated. For extreme cases some, he 
tells us, have suggested tyrannicide, that is, execution by private 
persons. The individual act of one who exposes himself to rid the 
state of a tyrant has often been admired and was approved by the 
Old Testament. However, says the Angelic Doctor, the New Testa- 
ment does not countenance this practice — witness St. Peter, who 
says: "Be subjects to your masters, not only to the good and 
gentle but also to the forward." ® And he goes on to say that the 
attitude of the martyrs, who died but did not rebel, confirmed 
this doctrine. Sound political prudence likewise condemns tyran- 
nicide, for it would be a great hazard for the people and for the 
government if individuals, by private presumption, were to at- 
tempt to take the life of rulers, tyrannical though they may be; 
and he warns us that frequently those who are quick to have re- 
course to violence are inferior elements of society.'' 

Not individual violence, then, but lawful opposition should be 
resorted to against tyranny: "We must proceed not by private 
presumption, but by public authority." And defense against tyr- 

* I Pet. iii. 14. ** In Ep. ad Rom. xiii. i. 
« I Pet. ii. 18. T Rj>, I, § 47, p. 190. 



INTRODUCTION XXXlll 

anny may take several forms. If the ruler has been elected by 
the people, he may justly be checked or even deposed for abuse 
of power. Nor do the people break their contract if they depose 
a sovereign whom they had elected for life, inasmuch as they are 
not held to abide by the terms of an agreement which the ruler 
himself has already voided by his actions.® 

But if the tyrant wields power by delegation from a higher 
authority, it is the duty of this superior power to remove him. 
Finally, if no remedy can be found in human procedures, we must 
turn to God, the Universal Ruler. He may, if he wishes, change 
the heart of the tyrant; and those whom he deems unworthy of 
conversion he removes or degrades. We should have recourse to 
prayer; but before we request divine intervention against a tyran- 
nical ruler, we must be sure that we deserve to be helped. For 
frequently God permits tyrants to rule, so that they may chastise 
the subjects for their sinful conduct. 



IV. PLENITUDO POTESTATIS 

We can gather from what has already been said that no state 
can possess absolute power, and we can infer that there is no room 
in St. Thomas' theory of government for a lay world-emperor. 
The Angelic Doctor says explicitly that the ultimate goal of an 
assembled multitude is not to live in accordance with virtue, but, 
by means of a virtuous life, to attain divine fruition. If indeed 
this end could be reached by the virtue of human nature, it would 
of necessity be in the power of the lay ruler to direct men to this 
goal. However, since man rises to the possession of God not by 
human but by divine power, the guidance to that goal must be 
the task not of a human but of a divine government.^ 

In St. Thomas' own words: 

In order that spiritual matters might be kept separate from tem- 
poral ones, the ministry of this kingdom was entrusted not to earthly 
kings, but to priests and especially to the highest of them, the suc- 

8 Ibiii. I RJ>. II, 9S 107-108. 



XXXIV THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 

cesser of St. Peter, vicar of Christ, the Roman Pontiff, to whom all 
kings must be subject just as they are subject to Our Lord Jesus. 
For, those to whom the care of an intermediate end pertains should 
be subject to him to whom the care of the ultimate end belongs and 
be directed by his rule.^ 

More uncompromising still, even if stated in feudal parlance, 
is the pronouncement of Quaestiones Quodlibetales xii. 19: 

In old Roman days, monarchs opposed Christ. But now kings 
comprehend, and because of what they have learned, they serve 
Our Lord Jesus Christ in fear; and, therefore, today kings are 
vassals of the Church. 

Nor is the Pope's power that of a supreme potentate removed 
from the actual administration of things and therefore in need of 
a vicar or an associate to assume his political functions and to 
act as a universal emperor over all earthly kings and rulers. There 
can be no lay King of Kings; it is the Pope who is the sovereign 
of all rulers: "In the Pope the secular power is joined to the spir- 
itual. He holds the apex of both powers, spiritual and secular, by 
the will of Him who is Priest and King unto eternity, King of 
Kings and Dominus Dominantium."^ 

An indirect power (ratione peccati) over the worldly rulers is 
exercised by the other princes of the Church: 

Secular power is subject to the spiritual power as the body is sub- 
ject to the soul, and therefore it is not a usurpation of authority 
if the spiritual prelate interferes in temporal things concerning 
those matters in which the secular power is subject to him, or con- 
cerning those matters the care of which has been entrusted to him 
by the secular power.* 

But the authority of the Pope is quite other. For though there is a 
sphere of authority reserved for political power, the Pope is not ex- 
cluded from it: 

^Ibtd.;% no. 

3 II Sent. 44 expositio textus. 

*S. II-II, Q. 60, A. 6. This analogical argumentation is constantly resorted 

to: "In the Church the Pope holds the place of the head and the major 

prelates hold the place of the principal limbs" {In Ep. ad Rom. xii. 2). 



INTRODUCTION XXXV 

In matters pertaining to salvation of the soul we should obey 
spiritual rather than temporal authority, but in those whieh per- 
tain to the political good we should obey the temporal rather than 
the spiritual, for, as Matthew says, "Give unto Caesar, etc.," un- 
less when it happens that the spiritual and the civil power are 
joined in one person as in the case of the Pope, who holds the 
summit of power both spiritual and secular, because of the will 
of Him who is both King and Priest, Priest unto Eternity accord- 
ing to the order of Melchisedech.^ 

The uniqueness of the Pope's authority is explained in the pas- 
sage that follows: 

Sometimes the inferior power emanates in its totality from the 
superior, in which case the entire potence of the former is founded 
upon the potence of the latter, so that obedience is due to the 
higher at all times and without exceptions. Such is the superiority 
of the Emperor's power over that of the Proconsul [quoted from 
St. Augustine] ; such that of the Pope over all spiritual powers in 
the Church, since the ecclesiastical hierarchies are ordained and 
disposed by him, and his power is in some manner the foundation 
of the Church as it appears from Matthew i6. Hence we are re- 
quired in all these things to obey him rather than the bishop or 
archbishop and to him the monk owes obedience in preference to 
his abbot. But two powers may be such that both arise from a 
third and supreme authority, and their relative rank, then depends 
upon the will of this uppermost power. When this is the case, 
either one of the two subordinate authorities controls the other 
only in those matters in which its superiority has been recognized 
by the uppermost power. Of such nature is the authority exercised 
by rulers, by bishops, archbishops, etc., over their subjects, for all 
of them have received it from the Pope and with it the conditions 
and limitations of its use.® 

St. Thomas could tolerate no other adjustment: "Mankind," he 
says, "is considered like one body, which is called the mystic body, 
whose head is Christ both as to soul and as to body." "^ Christ has 
one vicar, the Pope,^ and the Pope is the "head of the republic of 
Christ." ® The ecclesia includes the res publica. 

5 II Sent. 44 explicatio textus. Some apply this solely to the Pontifical State. 

But such an interpretation does not seem to be tenable. 

8 Ibid. 7 5. Ill, Q. 8, A. I. 

^C.G. iv. 76. ^Contra errores Graecorum ii. 32. 



XXXVl THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 

The law by which the Pope governs is the divine law, which, as 
we saw above, includes all that natural law teaches and something 
else besides. Divine law includes natural law but does not abolish 
it. In other words, if the state remains within the limits set to it 
by natural law, no interference is justified. No one is allowed to 
appeal to divine law against the just obligations imposed by the 
state. According to St. Thomas, the faith of Christ is the principle 
and cause of justice. Hence the order of justice is not destroyed 
but rather enhanced by this faith. But the order of justice de- 
mands that inferiors obey superiors, for otherwise human society 
could not exist. Hence men may not invoke their faith in Christ 
as an excuse for disobeying secular rulers.^*^ 

St. Thomas recognizes the autonomy of the state, and this rec- 
ognition is utilized in settling important questions such as that 
of the right of infidel rulers to demand obedience of their Christian 
subjects: "Infidelity in itself does not destroy the justness of 
power, because power was instituted by ius gentium, a human 
law, and the distinction between believers and infidels exists by 
virtue of divine law, which does not destroy human law." ^^ An 
infidel, like any other ruler, may, of course, lose his power because 
of sins he commits; and it may well be that such sins, in that case, 
have some connection with his religion. "It does not pertain to the 
Church," he adds, "to punish the infidelity of those who never 
took up the faith, according to St. Paul's I Corinthians (v. 12)." ^^ 
However, the situation of heretics is different: The Church "can 
sententially punish the infidelity of those who had previously ac- 
cepted the faith ^^ . . . and, therefore, as soon as a sentence of 
excommunication has been delivered against a ruler on account of 
apostasy from the faith, ipso facto his subjects are released from 
his control and from their oath of fidelity." ^^ 

Existing infidel rulers are therefore authorized to continue in 
existence, but no new infidel formations are to be permitted: 

The Church cannot allow that infidels proceed to gain control 
over believers or that they be in any way placed in a commanding 

105. II-II, Q. 104, A. 6, pp. 171-2. 11 Ibid., Q. 12, A. 2. i2/6frf. 

13 Here follows the reason why heresy and not infidelity is punishable. 

14 5. II-II, Q. 12, A. 2. 



INTRODUCTION XXXVU 

position over them. But we can speak differently about powers or 
authorities already existing. For, as we have seen, power and au- 
thority have been instituted by human law, whereas the distinc- 
tion between infidels and believers exists in virtue of divine law. 
But divine law, which comes from Grace, does not destroy human 
law, which comes from nature.^** 

This apparently was a strong statement, for St. Thomas im- 
mediately introduced a clause that justified exceptional procedures 
on the part of the Church, on the basis of its possessing the "au- 
thority of God." It is important, however, to notice that here, as 
everywhere else, the point that St. Thomas stresses is the stability 
of the political order. For its sake the Church refrains from going 
the whole length in imposing this God-given authority. It is be- 
cause of this fear of political disturbances that St. Thomas decides 
against the manumission of Christian slaves owned by Jews. 

Over the natural state so organized the Pope ordinarily exercises 
no immediate jurisdiction. He does not wield the two swords. One 
of them, that of earthly justice, he hands over to the secular ruler, 
who is to unsheathe it, however, at his beck {ad nutum)}^ It is 
interesting, nevertheless, to see that in one sphere the Pope exer- 
cises direct political authority: The civil authorities, St. Thomas 
say3, have, according to Aristotle, the power to regulate the in- 
struction of the citizens, to decide to what pursuits individual men 
should dedicate themselves, and how far these should be carried. 
"And so it is clear that the ordaining of a university pertains to 
him who is at the head of the state, and especially to the authority 
of the Apostolic See by which the Universal Church is ruled, the 
intellectual interests of which are taken care of in the higher in- 
stitution of learning." ^'' 

DINO BIGONGIARI 

Columbia University 
April, ig52 



IB Ibid., Q. 10, A. 10. 

18 rv Sent. 37 expositio textus ; cf. 5. II-II, Q. 64, A. 4. ad 3. Cf. St. Bernard, 

De consideratione iv. 3. 7, and Epist. 256. 

" CJ. i. 8. 



NOTE ON THE TEXT 

This edition presents the ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas on poli- 
tics, justice, and social problems as set forth in The Summa 
Theologica, and on forms of government as set forth in De 
Regimine Principum. 

Selections from The Summa Theologica have been taken from 
the translation of the Fathers of the English Doininican Province, 
published by Burns, Gates and Washbourne, Ltd., London, Pub- 
lishers to the Holy See. Where a passage has been newly trans- 
lated by the editor, it appears in brackets, and the version of the 
Dominican Fathers is given below in a footnote. In instances 
where the Douay and Vulgate versions of a biblical passage differ, 
as indicated by the Dominican Fathers, this distinction has been 
preserved. Explanatory notes on the text, contributed by the editor, 
appear both in bracketed footnotes and in the Appendix. The 
editor has also supplied a glossary of unusual terms and familiar 
words used in a limited sense. 

Selections from De Regimine Principum, with accompanying 
notes, have been taken from the Phelan-Eschmann translation, 
published under the title On Kingship, To the King of Cyprus, 
and are here reprinted by permission of the publisher, the Pontifical 
Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, Canada. 

For the reader's convenience, the editors of the "Hafner Library 
of Classics" have removed references to source material other than 
passages included in this volume from the text to the Appendix 
and have supplied a list of abbreviated titles of works cited. 
Punctuation and spelling have been revised in accordance with 
present-day American usage. 

O.P. 



xxxvui 



THE SUMMA THEOLOGICA 

[Selections from I-II and II-II] 



THE SUMMA THEOLOGICA 

[First Part of the Second Part] 

QUESTION 90 

OF THE ESSENCE OF LAW 
(In Four Articles) 

We have now to consider the extrinsic principles of acts. Now 
the extrinsic principle inclining to evil is the devil, of whose 
temptations we have spoken in the First Part (Q. 114). But the 
extrinsic principle moving to good is God, Who both instructs us 
by means of His law and assists us by His grace; wherefore in 
the first place we must speak of law; in the second place, of grace. 

Concerning law, we must consider (i) law itself in general, (2) 
its parts. Concerning law in general three points offer themselves 
for our consideration: (i) its essence; (2) the different kinds of 
law; (3) the effects of law. 

Under the first head there are four points of inquiry: (i) 
whether law is something pertaining to reason? (2) concerning 
the end of law; (3) its cause; (4) the promulgation of law. 

First Article 
WHETHER LAW IS SOMETHING PERTAINING TO REASON? 

We proceed thus to the First Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that law is not something pertain- 
ing to reason. For the Apostle says: "I see another law in my mem- 
bers," etc.^ But nothing pertaining to reason is in the members, 
since the reason does not make use of a bodily organ. Therefore 
law is not something pertaining to reason. 

3 



4 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-II 

Obj. 2. Further, in the reason there is nothing else but power, 
habit, and act. But law is not the power itself of reason. In like 
manner, neither is it a habit of reason, because the habits of rea- 
son are the intellectual virtues of which we have spoken above.^ 
Nor again is it an act of reason, because then law would cease 
when the act of reason ceases, for instance, while we are asleep. 
Therefore law is nothing pertaining to reason. 

Obj. 3. Further, the law moves those who are subject to it to 
act aright. But it belongs properly to the will to move to act, as 
is evident from what has been said above.^ Therefore law pertains 
not to the reason, but to the will, according to the words of the 
Jurist:* "Whatever pleases the sovereign, has the force of law." * 

On the contrary, It belongs to the law to command and to for- 
bid. But it belongs to reason to command, as stated above.^ There- 
fore law is something pertaining to reason. 

I answer that, Law is a rule and measure of acts whereby man 
is induced to act or is restrained from acting; for lex (law) is de- 
rived from ligare (to bind), because it binds one to act. Now the 
rule and measure of human acts is the reason, which is the first 
principle of human acts, as is evident from what has been stated 
above,^ since it belongs to the reason to direct to the end, which is 
the first principle in all matters of action,*^ according to the 
Philosopher.** Now that which is the principle in any genus is the 
rule and measure of that genus: for instance, unity in the genus of 
numbers, and the first movement in the genus of movements. Con- 
sequently it follows that law is something pertaining to reason. 

Reply Obj. i . Since law is a kind of rule and measure, it may be 
in something in two ways. First, as in that which measures and 
rules ; and since this is proper to reason, it follows that, in this way, 
law is in the reason alone. — Secondly, as in that which is measured 
and ruled. In this way law is in all those things that are inclined to 
something by reason of some law, so that any inclination arising 
from a law may be called a law, not essentially but by participa- 
tion as it were. And thus the inclination of the members to con- 
cupiscence is called "the law of the members." 

a [Ulpian (i7o?-228 a.d.).] 
b [Aristotle.] 



OF THE ESSENCE OF LAW 5 

Reply Ob'j. 2. Just as, in external action, we may consider the 
work and the work done — for instance, the work of building and 
the house built, so in the acts of reason we may consider the act 
itself of reason, i.e., to understand and to reason, and something 
produced by this act. With regard to the speculative reason, this is 
first of all the definition; secondly, the proposition; thirdly, the 
syllogism or argument. And since also the practical reason makes 
use of a syllogism in respect of the work to be done,*= as stated 
above ^ and as the Philosopher teaches,^ hence we find in the prac- 
tical reason something that holds the same position in regard to 
operations as, in the speculative intellect, the proposition holds 
in regard to conclusions. Suchlike universal propositions of the 
practical intellect that are directed to actions have the nature of 
law. And these propositions are sometimes under our actual con- 
sideration, while sometimes they are retained in the reason by 
means of a habit. 

Reply Ob'j. 3. Reason has its power of moving from the will, as 
stated above,^^ for it is due to the fact that one wills the end that 
the reason issues its commands as regards things ordained to the 
end. But in order that the volition of what is commanded may have 
the nature of law, it needs to be in accord with some rule of reason. 
And in this sense is to be understood the saying that the will of 
the sovereign has the force of law; otherwise the sovereign's will 
would savor of lawlessness rather than of law. 



Second Article 

WHETHER THE LAW IS ALWAYS DIRECTED TO THE 
COMMON GOOD? 

We proceed thus to the Second Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that the law is not always directed 
to the common good as to its end. For it belongs to law to com- 
mand and to forbid. But commands are directed to certain indi- 
vidual goods. Therefore the end of the law is not always the 
common good. 
<= [I.e., makes use of a syllogism of a sort in its (practical) activities.] 



6 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

Obj. 2. Further, the law directs man in his actions. But human 
actions are concerned with particular matters. Therefore the law is 
directed to some particular good. 

Obj. 3. Further, Isidore says: "If the law is based on reason, 
whatever is based on reason will be a law." ^^ But reason is the 
foundation not only of what is ordained to the common good, but 
also of that which is directed to private good. Therefore the law 
is not only directed to the good of all, but also to the private good 
of an individual. 

On the contrary, Isidore says that "laws are enacted for no 
private profit, but for the common benefit of the citizens." ^^ 

/ answer that, As stated above (A. i), the law belongs to that 
which is a principle of human acts, because it is their rule and 
measure. Now as reason is a principle of human acts, so in reason 
itself there is something which is the principle in respect of all the 
rest; wherefore to this principle chiefly and mainly law must 
needs be referred. — ^Now the first principle in practical matters, 
which are the object of the practical reason, is the last end; and 
the last end of human life is bliss or happiness, as stated above.^' 
Consequently the law must needs regard principally the relation- 
ship to happiness. Moreover, since every part is ordained to the 
whole, as imperfect to perfect; and since one man is a part of the 
perfect community, the law must needs regard properly the rela- 
tionship to universal happiness. Wherefore the Philosopher, in the 
above definition of legal matters, mentions both happiness and the 
body politic, for he says that we call those legal matters just, 
"which are adapted to produce and preserve happiness and its 
parts for the body politic," ^* since the state is a perfect com- 
munity, as he says in Politics i. i. 

[Now, in every genus that thing which reaches the highest degree 
is the principle (cause) of the rest (in that genus), and these 
others are graded with respect to it. So fire, which possesses heat 
in the highest degree, is the cause of heat in mixed bodies] ,*' and 

•^D.F. Tr.: Now in every genus, that which belongs to it chiefly is the prin- 
ciple of the others, and the others belong to that genus in subordination to 
that thing: thus fire, which is chief among hot things, is the cause of heat in 
mixed bodies. 



OF THE ESSENCE OF LAW 7 

these are said to be hot in so far as they have a share of fire. Con- 
sequently, since the law is chiefly ordained to the common good, 
any other precept in regard to some individual work must needs 
be devoid of the nature of a law, save in so far as it regards the 
common good. Therefore every law is ordained to the common 
good. 

Reply Ob'j. i. A command denotes an application of a la,w to 
matters regulated by the law. Now the order to the common good, 
at which the law aims, is applicable to particular ends. And in this 
way commands are given even concerning particular matters. 

Reply Obj. 2 . Actions are indeed concerned with particular mat- 
ters, but those particular matters are referable to the common good, 
not as to a common genus or species, but as to a common final 
cause, according as the common good is said to be the common 
end. 

Reply Obj. 3. Just as nothing stands firm with regard to the 
speculative reason except that which is traced back to the first 
indemonstrable principles, so nothing stands firm with regard to the 
practical reason unless it be directed to the last end which is 
the common good ; and whatever stands to reason in this sense has 
the nature of a law. 



Third Article 

WHETHER THE REASON OF ANY MAN IS COMPETENT 
TO MAKE LAWS? 

We proceed thus to the Third Article: 

Objection 1 . It would seem that the reason of any man is com- 
petent to make laws. For the Apostle says that "when the Gentiles, 
who have not the law, do by nature those things that are of the 
law . . . they are a law to themselves." ^'^ Now he says this of 
all in general. Therefore anyone can make a law for himself. 

Obj. 2. Further, as the Philosopher says, "The intention of the 
lawgiver is to lead men to virtue." ^* But every man can lead an- 
other to virtue. Therefore the reason of any man is competent to 
make laws. 



8 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

Obj. 3. Further, just as the sovereign of a state governs the 
state, so every father of a family governs his household. But the 
sovereign of a state can make laws for the state. Therefore every 
father of a family can make laws for his household. 

On the contrary, Isidore says: "A law is an ordinance of the 
people, whereby something is sanctioned by the Elders together 
with the Commonalty." ^"^ 

I answer that, A law, properly speaking, regards first and fore- 
most the order to the common good. Now to order anything to 
the common good belongs either to the whole people or to some- 
one who is the vicegerent of the whole people. And therefore the 
making of a law belongs either to the whole people or to a public 
personage who has care of the whole people, since in all other mat- 
ters the directing of anything to the end concerns him to whom the 
end belongs. 

Reply Obj. i. As stated above (A. i arf i), a law is in a person 
not only as in one that rules, but also by participation as in one 
that is ruled. In the latter way each one is a law to himself, in so 
far as he shares the direction that he receives from one who rules 
him. Hence the same text goes on, "who show the work of the law 
written in their hearts." 

Reply Obj. 2, A private person cannot lead another to virtue 
efficaciously, for he can only advise, and if his advice be not taken, 
it has no coercive power, such as the law should have in order to 
prove an efficacious inducement to virtue, as the Philosopher says.^^ 
But this coercive power is vested in the whole people or in some 
public personage to whom it belongs to inflict penalties, as we shall 
state further on (Q. 92, A. 2 oc? 3; II-II, Q. 64, A. 3). Wherefore 
the framing of laws belongs to him alone. 

Reply Obj. 3. As one man is a part of the household, so a house- 
hold is a part of the state; and the state is a perfect community, 
according to Politics i. i. And therefore, as the good of one man 
is not the last end, but is ordained to the common good, so, too, the 
good of one household is ordained to the good of a single state, 
which is a perfect community. Consequently he that governs a 
family can indeed make certain commands or ordinances, but not 
such as to have properly the force of law. 



of the essence of law 9 

Fourth Article 
WHETHER PROMULGATION IS ESSENTIAL TO A LAW? 

We proceed thus to the Fourth Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that promulgation is not essential 
to a law. For the natural law above all has the character of law. 
But the natural law needs no promulgation. Therefore it is not 
essential to a law that it be promulgated. 

Ob). 2. Further, it belongs properly to a law to bind one to do 
or not to do something. But the obligation of fulfilling a law 
touches not only those in whose presence it is promulgated, but also 
others. Therefore promulgation is not essential to a law. 

Ob'}. 3. Further, the binding force of a law extends even to the 
future, since "laws are binding in matters of the future," as the 
jurists say.^^ But promulgation concerns those who are present. 
Therefore it is not essential to a law. 

On the contrary, It is laid down in the Decretals, dist. 4, that 
"laws are established when they are promulgated." 

/ answer that. As stated above (A. i ) , a law is imposed on others 
by way of a rule and measure. Now a rule or measure is imposed 
by being applied to those who are to be ruled and measured by it. 
Wherefore, in order that a law obtain the binding force which is 
proper to a law, it must needs be applied to the men who have 
to be ruled by it. Such application is made by its being notified to 
them by promulgation. Wherefore promulgation is necessary for 
the law to obtain its force. 

Thus from the four preceding articles the definition of law may 
be gathered ; and it is nothing else than an ordinance of reason for 
the common good, made by him who has care of the community, 
and promulgated. 

Reply Obj. i. The natural law is promulgated by the very fact 
that God instilled it into man's mind so as to be known by him 
naturally. 

Reply Obj. 2 . Those who are not present when a law is promul- 
gated are bound to observe the law, in so far as it is notified or 
can be notified to them by others, after it has been promulgated. 



10 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

Reply Obj. 3. The promulgation that takes place now extends 
to future time by reason of the durability of written characters, 
by which means it is continually promulgated. Hence Isidore says 
that ^Hex (law) is derived from legere (to read) because it is 
written." 20 



QUESTION 91 

OF THE VARIOUS KINDS OF LAW 

(/n Six Articles) 

We must now consider the various kinds of law, under which head 
there are six points of inquiry: (i) Whether there is an eternal 
law? (2) Whether there is a natural law? (3) Whether there is 
a human law? (4) Whether there is a divine law? (5) Whether 
there is one divine law or several? (6) Whether there is a law of 
sin? 

First Article 
WHETHER THERE IS AN ETERNAL LAW? 

We proceed thus to the First Article: 

Objection 1 . It would seem that there is no eternal law. Because 
every law is imposed on someone. But there was not someone from 
eternity on whom a law could be imposed, since God alone was 
from eternity. Therefore no law is eternal. 

Obj. 2 . Further, promulgatibn is essential to law. But promulga- 
tion could not be from eternity, because there was no one to whom 
it could be promulgated from eternity. Therefore no law can be 
eternal. 

Obj. 3. Further, a law implies order to an end. But nothing 
ordained to an end is eternal, for the last end alone is eternal. 
Therefore no law is eternal. 

On the contrary, Augustine says: "That Law which is the Su- 
preme Reason cannot be understood to be otherwise than un- 
changeable and eternal." ^ 

/ answer that, As stated above (Q. 90, A. i ad 2; AA. 3, 4), 
a law is nothing else but a dictate of practical reason emanating 
from the ruler who governs a perfect community. Now it is evi- 

II 



12 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

dent, granted that the world is ruled by divine providence, as was 
stated in the First Part,^ that the whole community of the uni- 
verse is governed by divine reason. Wherefore the very Idea of the 
government of things in God the Ruler of the universe has the 
nature of a law. And since the divine reason's conception of things 
is not subject to time but is eternal, according to Proverbs viii. 23, 
therefore it is that this kind of law must be called eternal. 

Reply Obj. i . Those things that are not in themselves exist with 
God, inasmuch as they are foreknown and preordained by Him, 
according to Romans iv. 17, "Who calls those things that are not, 
as those that are." Accordingly the eternal concept of the divine 
law bears the character of an eternal law in so far as it is ordained 
by God to the government of things foreknown by Him. 

Reply Obj. 2. Promulgation is made by word of mouth or in 
writing; and in both ways the eternal- law is promulgated, because 
both the divine word and the writing of the Book of Life are 
eternal. But the promulgation cannot be from eternity on the part 
of the creature that hears or reads. 

Reply Obj. 3. The law implies order to the end actively, in so 
far as it directs certain things to the end, but not passively — that 
is to say, the law itself is not ordained to the end — except acci- 
dentally, in a governor whose end is extrinsic to him, and to which 
end his law must needs be ordained. But the end of the divine 
government is God Himself, and His law is not distinct from Him- 
self. Wherefore the eternal law is not ordained to another end. 



Second Article 
WHETHER THERE IS IN US A NATURAL LAW? 

We proceed thus to the Second Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that there is no natural law in us. 
Because man is governed sufficiently by the eternal law; for 
Augustine says that "the eternal law is that by which it is right 
that all things should be most orderly." ^ But nature does not 
abound in superfluities, as neither does she fail in necessaries. 
Therefore no law is natural to man. 



OF THE VARIOUS KINDS OF LAW 1 3 

Obj. 2. Further, by the law man is directed in his acts to the 
end, as stated above (Q. 90, A. 2). But the directing of human 
acts to their end is not a function of nature, as is the case in irra- 
tional creatures, which act for an end solely by their natural appe- 
tite; whereas man acts for an end by his reason and will. Therefore 
no law is natural to man. 

Obj. 3. Further, the more a man is free, the less is he under the 
law. But man is freer than all the animals, on account of his free 
will, with which he is endowed above all other animals. Since 
therefore other animals are not subject to a natural law, neithier 
is man subject to a natural law. 

On the contrary, A gloss on Romans ii. 14: "When the Gentiles, 
who have not the law, do by nature those things that are of the 
law," comments as follows: "Although they have no written law, 
yet they have the natural law, whereby each one knows, and is 
conscious of, what is good and what is evil." 

/ answer that, As stated above (Q. 90, A. i ad 1), law, being a 
rule and measure, can be in a person in two waj-^s: in one way, as 
in him that rules and measures; in another way, as in that which 
is ruled and measured, since a thing is ruled and measured in so far 
as it partakes of the rule or measure. Wherefore, since all things 
subject to divine providence are ruled and measured by the eternal 
law, as was stated above (A. i), it is evident that all things par- 
take somewhat of the eternal law, in so far as, namely, from its 
being imprinted on them, they derive their respective inclinations 
to their proper acts and ends. Now among all others the rational 
creature is subject to divine providence in the most excellent way, 
in so far as it partakes of a share of providence, by being provident 
both for itself and for others. Wherefore it has a share of the 
eternal reason, whereby it has a natural inclination to its proper 
act and end: and this participation of the eternal law in the rational 
creature is called the natural law. Hence the Psalmist after saying: 
"Offer up the sacrifice of justice," as though someone asked what 
the works of justice are, adds: "Many say, Who showeth us good 
things?" in answer to which question he says: "The light of Thy 
countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us"; "* thus implying that the 
light of natural reason, whereby we discern what is good and what 



14 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

is evil, which is the function of the natural law, is nothing else 
than an imprint on us of the divine light. It is therefore evident 
that the natural law is nothing else than the rational creature's 
participation of the eternal law. 

Reply Obj. i. This argument would hold if the natural law 
were something different from the eternal law, whereas it is nothing 
but a participation thereof, as stated above. 

Reply Obj. 2. Every act of reason and will in us is based on 
that which is according to nature, as stated above ; ^ for every act 
of reasoning is based on principles that are known naturally, and 
every act of appetite in respect of the means is derived from the 
natural appetite in respect of the last end. Accordingly the first 
direction of our acts to their end must needs be in virtue of the 
natural law. 

Reply Obj. 3. Even irrational animals partake in their own way 
of the eternal reason, just as the rational creature does. But be- 
cause the rational creature partakes thereof in an intellectual and 
rational manner, therefore the participation of the eternal law in 
the rational creature is properly called a law, since a law is some- 
thing pertaining to reason, as stated above (Q. 90, A. i). Irrational 
creatures, however, do not partake thereof in a rational manner, 
wherefore there is no participation of the eternal law in them, 
except by way of similitude. 



Third Article 
WHETHER THERE IS A HUMAN LAW? 

We proceed thus to the Third Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that there is not a human law. For 
the natural law is a participation of the eternal law, as stated 
above (A. 2). Now through the eternal law "all things are most 
orderly," as Augustine states.® Therefore the natural law suffices 
for the ordering of all human affairs. Consequently there is no 
need for a human law. 

Obj. 2 . Further, a law bears the character of a measure, as stated 
above (Q. 90, A. i). But human reason is not a measure of things, 



OF THE VARIOUS KINDS OF LAW 1 5 

but vice versa, as stated in Metaphysics x. text. 5. Therefore no 
law can emanate from human reason. 

Obj. 3. Further, a measure should be most certain, as stated in 
Metaphysics x. text. 3. But the dictates of human reason in mat- 
ters of conduct are uncertain, according to Wisdom ix. 14: "The 
thoughts of mortal men are fearful, and our counsels uncertain." 
Therefore no law can emanate from human reason. 

On the contrary, Augustine distinguishes two kinds of law — the 
one eternal; the other temporal, which he calls human.''^ 

/ answer that, As stated above (Q. go, A. i, ad 2), a. law is a 
dictate of the practical reason. Now it is to be observed that the 
same procedure takes place in the practical and in the speculative 
reason, for each proceeds from principles to conclusions, as stated 
above (ibid.). Accordingly we conclude that just as, in the specula- 
tive reason, from naturally known indemonstrable principles we 
draw the conclusions of the various sciences, the knowledge of 
which is not imparted to us by nature, but acquired by the efforts 
of reason; so, too, it is from the precepts of the natural law, as 
from general and indemonstrable principles, that the human reason 
needs to proceed to the more particular determination of certain 
matters. These particular determinations, devised by human reason, 
are called human laws, provided the other essential conditions of 
law be observed, as stated above (Q. 90, AA. 2, 3, 4). Wherefore 
Cicero says in his Rhetoric that "justice has its source in nature; 
thence certain things came into custom by reason of their utility; 
afterward these things which emanated from nature and were ap- 
proved by custom were sanctioned by fear and reverence for the 
law." 8 

Reply Obj. i . The human reason cannot have a full participation 
of the dictate of the divine reason but according to its own mode, 
and imperfectly. Consequently, as on the part of the speculative 
reason, by a natural participation of divine wisdom, there is in us 
the knowledge of certain general principles, but not proper knowl- 
edge of each single truth, such as that contained in the divine wis- 
dom ; so, too, on the part of the practical reason man has a natural 
participation of the eternal law, according to certain general prin- 
ciples, but not as regards the particular determinations of indi- 



1 6 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

vidual cases, which are, however, contained in the eternal law. 
[Hence the necessity that human reason proceed to certain par- 
ticular sanctions of law.] * 

Reply Obj. 2. Human reason is not of itself the rule of things, 
but the principles impressed on it by nature are general rules and 
measures of all things relating to human conduct, whereof the 
natural reason is the rule and measure, although it is not the meas- 
ure ot things that are from nature. 

Reply Obj. 3. The practical reason is concerned with practical 
matters, which are singular and contingent, but not with necessary 
things, with which the speculative reason is concerned. Wherefore 
human laws cannot have that inerrancy that belongs to the demon- 
strated conclusions of sciences. Nor is it necessary for every meas- 
ure to be altogether unerring and certain, but according as it is 
possible in its own particular genus. 



Fourth Article 
WHETHER THERE WAS ANY NEED FOR A DIVINE LAW? 

We proceed thus to the Fourth Article: 

Objection i . It would seem that there was no need for a divine 
law. Because, as stated above (A. 2), the natural law is a par- 
ticipation in us of the eternal law. But the eternal law is a divine 
law, as stated above (A. i ) . Therefore there is no need for a divine 
law in addition to the natural law and human laws derived there- 
from. 

Obj. 2. Further, it is written that "God left man in the hand of 
his own counsel." ^ Now counsel is an act of reason, as stated 
above.^® Therefore man was left to the direction of his reason. But 
a dictate of human reason is a human law, as stated above (A. 3). 
Therefore there is no need for man to be governed also by a divine 
law. 

Obj. 3. Further, human nature is more self-sufficing than irra- 
tional creatures. But irrational creatures have no divine law be- 

" D.F. Tr.: Hence the need for human reason to proceed further to sanction 
them by law. 



OF THE VARIOUS KINDS OF LAW 1 7 

sides the natural inclination impressed on them. Much less, there- 
fore, should the rational creature have a divine law in addition to 
the natural law. 

On the contrary, David prayed God to set His law before him, 
saying: "Set before me for a law the way of Thy justifications, O 
Lord." " 

/ answer that, Besides the natural and the human law it was 
necessary for the directing of human conduct to have a divine law. 
And this for four reasons. First, because it is by law that man is 
directed how to perform his proper acts in view of his last end. And 
indeed, if man were ordained to no other end than that which is 
proportionate to his natural faculty, there would be no need for 
man to have any further direction on the part of his reason besides 
the natural law and human law which is derived from it. But since 
man is ordained to an end of eternal happiness which is inpro- 
portionate to man's natural faculty, as stated above,^" therefore it 
was necessary that, besides the natural and the human law, man 
should be directed to his end by a law given by God. 

Secondly, because, on account of the uncertainty of human 
judgment, especially on contingent and particular matters, differ- 
ent people form different judgments on human acts; whence also 
different and contrary laws result. In order, therefore, that man 
may know without any doubt what he ought to do and what he 
ought to avoid, it was necessary for man to be directed in his 
proper acts by a law given by God, for it is certain that such a law 
cannot err. 

Thirdly, because man can make laws in those matters of which 
he is competent to judge. But man is not competent to judge of 
interior movements that are hidden, but only of exterior acts which 
appear ; and yet for .the perfection of virtue it is necessary for man 
to conduct himself aright in both kinds of acts. Consequently hu- 
man law could not sufficiently curb and direct interior acts, and it 
was necessary for this purpose that a divine law should supervene. 

Fourthly, because, as Augustine says, human law cannot punish 
or forbid all evil deeds; since while aiming at doing away with all 
evils, it would do away with many good things, and would hinder 
the advance of the common good, which is necessary for human 



l8 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

intercourse.^^ In order, therefore, that no evil might remain unfor- 
bidden and unpunished, it was necessary for the divine law to 
supervene, whereby all sins are forbidden. 

And these four causes are touched upon in Psalm cxviii. 8, where 
it is said: "The law of the Lord is unspotted," i.e., allowing no 
foulness of sin; "converting souls," because it directs not only ex- 
terior but also interior acts; "the testimony of the Lord is faith- 
ful," because of the certainty of what is true and right; "giving 
wisdom to little ones," by directing man to an end supernatural 
and divine. 

Reply Obj. i. By natural law the eternal law is participated in 
proportionately to the capacity of human nature. But to his super- 
natural end man needs to be directed in a yet higher way. Hence 
the additional law given by God, whereby man shares more per- 
fectly in the eternal law. 

Reply Ob']. 2. Counsel is a kind of inquiry; hence it must pro- 
ceed from some principles. Nor is it enough for it to proceed from 
principles imparted by nature, which are the precepts of the 
natural law, for the reasons given above; but there is need for cer- 
tain additional principles, namely, the precepts of the divine law. 

Reply Obj. 3. Irrational creatures are not ordained to an end 
higher than that which is proportionate to their natural powers; 
consequently the comparison fails. 



Fifth Article 
WHETHER THERE IS BUT ONE DIVINE LAW? 

We proceed thus to the Fifth Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that there is but one divine law. Be- 
cause where there is one king in one kingdom there is but one law. 
Now the whole of mankind is compared to God as to one king, 
according to Psalm xlvi. 8: "God is the King of all the earth." 
Therefore there is but one divine law. 

Obj. 2. Further, every law is directed to the end which the law- 
giver intends for those for whom he makes the law. But God in- 
tends one and the same thing for all men; since, according to 



OF THE VARIOUS KINDS OF LAW 1 9 

I Timothy ii. 4, "He will have all men to be saved, and to come 
to the knowledge of the truth." Therefore there is but one divine 
law. 

Obj. 3. Further, the divine law seems to be more akin to the 
eternal law, which is one, than the natural law, according as the 
revelation of grace is of a higher order than natural knowledge. 
Therefore much more is the divine law but one. 

On the contrary, The Apostle says: "The priesthood being trans- 
lated, it is necessary that a translation also be made of the law." ^* 
But the priesthood is twofold, as stated in the same passage, viz., 
the levitical priesthood and the priesthood of Christ. Therefore the 
divine law is twofold, namely, the Old Law and the New Law. 

/ answer that, As stated in the First Part,^^ distinction is the 
cause of number. Now things may be distinguished in two ways. 
First, as those things that are altogether specifically different, e.g., 
a horse and an ox. Secondly, as perfect and imperfect in the same 
species, e.g., a boy and a man; and in this way the divine law is 
divided into Old and New. Hence the Apostle compares the state 
of man under the Old Law to that of a child "under a pedagogue"; 
but the state under the New Law to that of a full-grown man who 
is "no longer under a pedagogue." ^* 

Now the perfection and imperfection of these two laws is to be 
taken in connection with the three conditions pertaining to law, as 
stated above. For, in the first place, it belongs to law to be directed 
to the common good as to its end, as stated above (Q. 90, A. 2). 
This good may be twofold. It may be a sensible and earthly good; 
and to this, man was directly ordained by the Old Law; where- 
fore, at the very outset of the law, the people were invited to the 
earthly kingdom of the Chananaeans.^"^ Again it may be an intel- 
ligible and heavenly good ; and to this, man is ordained by the New 
Law. Wherefore, at the very beginning of His preaching, Christ 
invited men to the kingdom of heaven, saying: "Do penance, for 
the kingdom of heaven is at hand." ^® Hence Augustine says that 
"promises of temporal goods are contained in the Old Testament, 
for which reason it is called old; but the promise of eternal life 
belongs to the New Testament." ^® 

Secondly, it belongs to the law to direct human acts according 



20 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

to the order of righteousness (A. 4), wherein also the New Law 
surpasses the Old Law, since it directs our internal acts, according 
to Matthew v. 20: "Unless your justice abound more than that 
of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom 
of heaven." Hence the saying that "the Old Law restrains the hand, 
but the New Law controls the mind." ^ 

Thirdly, it belongs to the law to induce men to observe its 
commandments. This the Old Law did by the fear of punishment; 
but the New Law, by love, which is poured into our hearts by the 
grace of Christ, bestowed in the New Law, but foreshadowed in the 
Old. Hence Augustine says that "there is little difference '^ between 
the Law and the Gospel — fear and love." ^^ 

Reply Obj. i. As the father of a family issues different com- 
mands to the children and to the adults, so also the one King, God, 
in His one kingdom, gave one law to men while they were yet 
imperfect, and another more perfect law when, by the preceding 
law, they had been led to a greater capacity for divine things. 

Reply Obj. 2 , The salvation of man could not be achieved other- 
wise than through Christ, according to Acts iv. 12: "There is no 
other name . . . given to men, whereby we must be saved." Con- 
sequently the law that brings all to salvation could not be given 
until after the coming of Christ. But before His coming it was 
necessary to give to the people of whom Christ was to be born a 
law containing certain rudiments of righteousness unto salvation in 
order to prepare them to receive Him, 

Reply Obj. 3. The natural law directs man by way of certain 
general precepts, common to both the perfect and the imperfect; 
wherefore it is one and the same for all. But the divine law directs 
man also in certain particular matters to which the perfect and 
imperfect do not stand in the same relation. Hence the necessity 
for the divine law to be twofold, as already explained. 

*> [Isidore, Libri tres Sententiarum D. xl.] 

c The "little difference" refers to the Latin wordi ttmor and amor — ^"fear" and 

"love." 



of the various kinds of law 21 

Sixth Article 
WHETHER THERE IS A LAW IN THE FOMES OF SIN? 

We proceed thus to the Sixth Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that there is no law of the "fomes" 
of sin. For Isidore says that the "law is based on reason." ^^ But 
the "fomes" of sin is not based on reason, but deviates from it. 
Therefore the "fomes" has not the nature of a law. 

Obj. 2. Further, every law is binding, so that those who do not 
obey it are called transgressors. But man is not called a transgressor 
from not following the instigations of the "fomes," but rather from 
his following them. Therefore the "fomes" has not the nature of 
a law. 

Ob']. 3. Further, the law is ordained to the common good, as 
stated above (Q. 90, A. 2), But the ''fomes" inclines us, not to the 
common, but to our own private good. [Therefore the "fomes" 
does not have the nature of a law.] ^ 

On the contrary, The Apostle says: "I see another law in my 
members, fighting against the law of my mind." ^^ 

/ answer that, As stated above (A. 2 ; Q. 90, A. i ad i), the law, 
as to its essence, resides in him that rules and measures; but, by 
way of participation, in that which is ruled and measured, so that 
every inclination or ordination which may be found in things sub- 
ject to the law is called a law by participation, as stated above 
(ibid.). Now those who are subject to a law may receive a twofold 
inclination from the lawgiver. First, in so far as he directly inclines 
his subjects to something, sometimes indeed different subjects to 
different acts ; in this way we may say that there is a military law 
and a mercantile law. Secondly, indirectly; thus by the very fact 
that a lawgiver deprives a subject of some dignity, the latter passes 
into another order, so as to be under another law, as it were: thus 
if a knight is dropped from chivalry,® he becomes a subject of 
rural or mercantile legislation. 

Accordingly under the divine lawgiver various creatures have vari- 

*D.F. Tr.: Therefore the "fomes" has not the nature of sin. 
« D.F. Tr.: if a soldier be turned out of the army. 



23 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

ous natural inclinations, so that what is, as it were, a law for one 
is against the law for another: thus I might say that fierceness is, 
in a way, the law of a dog, but against the law of a sheep or an- 
other meek animal. And so the law of man, which, by the divine 
ordinance, is allotted to him according to his proper natural con- 
dition, is that he should act in accordance with reason; and this 
law was so effective in the primitive state that nothing either beside 
or against reason could take man unawares. But when man turned 
his back on God, he fell under the influence of his sensual im- 
pulses — in fact this happens to each one individually the more he 
deviates from the path of reason — so that, after a fashion, he is 
likened to the beasts that are led by the impulse of sensuality, 
according to Psalm xlviii. 2 1 : "Man, when he was in honour, did 
not understand: he hath been compared to senseless beasts, and 
made like to them." 

So, then, this very inclination of sensuality which is called the 
"fomes," in other animals has simply the nature of a law (yet 
only in so far as a law may be said to be in such things), by 
reason of a direct inclination. But in man, it has not the nature 
of law in this way, rather is it a deviation from the law of reason. 
But since, by the just sentence of God, man is destitute of original 
justice and his reason bereft of its vigor, this impulse of sensuality 
whereby he is led, in so far as it is a penalty following from the 
divine law depriving man of his proper dignity, has the nature of 
a law. 

Reply Ob}, i. This argument considers the "fomes" in itself, as 
an incentive to evil. It is not thus that it has the nature of a law, 
as stated above, but according as it results from the justice of the 
divine law: [it is as though one were to say that it is legal to au- 
thorize that a nobleman, because of his transgressions, be made 
to perform the tasks of a slave] .' 

Reply Obj. 2 . This argument considers law in the light of a rule 
or measure, for it is in this sense that those who deviate from the 
law become transgressors. But the "fomes" is not a law in this 
respect, but by a kind of participation, as stated above, 

'D.F. Tr.: it is as though we were to say that the law allows a nobleman 
to be condemned to hard labor for some misdeed. 



OF THE VARIOUS KINDS OF LAW 23 

Reply Obj. 3. This argument considers the *'fomes" as to its 
proper inclination, and not as to its origin. And yet if the in- 
clination of sensuality be considered as it is in other animals, thus 
it is ordained to the common good, namely, to the preservation of 
nature in the species or in the individual. And this is in man also, 
in so far as sensuality is subject to reason. But it is called the 
"fomes" in so far as it strays from the order of reason. 



QUESTION 92 
OF THE EFFECTS OF LAW 

(In Two Articles) 

We must now consider the effects of law ; under which head there 
are two points of inquiry: (i) Whether an effect of law is to make 
men good? (2) Whether the effects of law are to command, to 
forbid, to permit, and to punish, as the Jurist states? 

First Article 
WHETHER AN EFFECT OF LAW IS TO MAKE MEN GOOD? 

We proceed thus to the First Article: 

Objection 1 . It seems that it is not an effect of law to make men 
good. For men are good through virtue, since virtue, as stated in 
Ethics ii. 6, is "that which makes its subject good." But virtue is 
in man from God alone, because He it is Who "works it in us 
without us," as we stated above ^ in giving the definition of virtue. 
Therefore the law does not make men good. 

Ob']. 2. Further, law does not profit a man unless he obeys it. 
But the very fact that a man obeys a law is due to his being good. 
Therefore in man goodness is presupposed to the law. Therefore 
the law does not make men good. 

Obj. 3. Further, law is ordained to the common good, as stated 
above (Q. 90, A. 2). But some behave well in things regarding the 
community, who behave ill in things regarding themselves. There- 
fore it is not the business of the law to make men good. 

Obj. 4. Further, some laws are tyrannical, as the Philosopher 
says.^ But a tyrant does not intend the good of his subjects, but 
considers only his own profit. Therefore law does not make men 
good. 

On the contrary, The Philosopher says that the "intention of 
every lawgiver is to make good citizens." ^ 

24 



OF THE EFFECTS OF LAW 25 

/ answer that, As stated above (Q, 90, A. i ad 2; AA. 3, 4), a 
law is nothing else than a dictate of reason in the ruler by [which]* 
his subjects are governed. Now the virtue of any subordinate thing 
consists in its being well subordinated to that by which it is regu- 
lated ; thus we see that the virtue of the irascible and concupiscible 
faculties consists in their being obedient to reason ; and accordingly 
"the virtue of every subject consists in his being well subjected to 
his ruler," as the Philosopher says.* But every law aims at being 
obeyed by those who are subject to it. Consequently it is evident 
that the proper effect of law is to lead its subjects to their proper 
virtue; and since virtue is "that which makes its subject good," it 
follows that the proper effect of law is to make those to whom it is 
given good, either simply or in some particular respect. For if the 
intention of the lawgiver is fixed on true good, which is the com- 
mon good regulated according to divine justice, it follows that the 
effect of the law is to make men good simply. If, however, the in- 
tention of the lawgiver is fixed on that which is not simply good, 
but useful or pleasurable to himself, or in opposition to divine 
justice, then the law does not make men good simply, but in re- 
spect to that particular government. In this way good is found even 
in things that are bad of themselves: thus a man is called a good 
robber because he works in a way that is adapted to his end. 

Reply Ob'}, i. Virtue is twofold, as explained above,^ viz., 
acquired and infused. Now the fact of being accustomed to an 
action contributes to both, but in different ways; for it causes the 
acquired virtue, while it disposes to infused virtue, and preserves 
and fosters it when it already exists. And since law is given for the 
purpose of directing human acts as far as human acts conduce to 
virtue, so far does law make men good. Wherefore the Philosopher 
says in the second book of the Politics [Ethics ii] that "law- 
givers make men good by habituating them to good works." 

Reply Obj. 2 . It is not always through perfect goodness of virtue 
that one obeys the law, but sometimes it is through fear of punish- 
ment, and sometimes from the mere dictate of reason, which is a 
beginning of virtue, as stated above.* 

Reply Obj. 3. The goodness of any part is considered in com- 
^D.F. Tr.: whom. 



26 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-II 

parison with the whole; hence Augustine says that "unseemly is 
the part that harmonizes not with the whole." "^ Since then every 
man is a part of the state, it is impossible that a man be good un- 
less he be well proportionate to the common good; nor can the 
whole be well consistent unless its parts be proportionate to it. 
Consequently the common good of the state cannot flourish unless 
the citizens be virtuous, at least those whose business it is to gov- 
ern. But it is enough for the good of the community that the 
other citizens be so far virtuous that they obey the commands of 
their rulers. Hence the Philosopher says that "the virtue of a 
sovereign is the same as that of a good man, but the virtue of 
any common citizen is not the same as that of a good man." ^ 

Reply Ob']. 4. A tyrannical law, through not being according 
to reason, is not a law, absolutely speaking, but rather a perver- 
sion of law; and yet in so far as it is something in the nature of 
a law, it aims at the citizens being good. For all it has in the na- 
ture of a law consists in its being an ordinance made by a su- 
perior to his subjects, and aims at being obeyed by them, which 
is to make them good, not simply, but with respect to that par- 
ticular government. 



Second Article 
WHETHER THE ACTS OF LAW ARE SUITABLY ASSIGNED? 

We proceed thus to the Second Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that the acts of law are not suit- 
ably assigned as consisting in "command," "prohibition," "per- 
mission," and "punishment." For "every law is a general precept," 
as the Jurist states.® But command and precept are the same. 
Therefore the other three are superfluous. 

Obj. 2. Further, the effect of a law is to induce its subjects to 
be good, as stated above (A. i). But counsel aims at a higher 
good than a command does. Therefore it belongs to law to coun- 
sel rather than to command. 

Obj. 3. Further, just as punishment stirs a man to good deeds, 



OF THE EFFECTS OF LAW 2^ 

SO does reward. Therefore, if to punish is reckoned an effect of 
law, so also is to reward. 

Ob'j. 4. Further, the intention of a lawgiver is to make men 
good, as stated above (A. i). But he that obeys the law merely 
through fear of being punished is not good, because "although 
a good deed may be done through servile fear, i.e., fear of punish- 
ment, it is not done well," as Augustine says.^° Therefore punish- 
ment is not a proper effect of law. 

On the contrary, Isidore says: "Every law either permits some- 
thing, as: 'A brave man may demand his reward'; or forbids 
something, as: 'No man may ask a consecrated virgin in mar- 
riage'; or punishes, as: 'Let him that commits a murder be put 
to death.' " ^i 

/ answer that, Just as an assertion is a dictate of reason assert- 
ing something, so is a law a dictate of reason commanding some- 
thing. Now it is proper to reason to lead from one thing to an- 
other. Wherefore just as, in demonstrative sciences, the reason 
leads us from certain principles to assent to the conclusion, so it 
induces us by some means to assent to the precept of the law. 

Now the precepts of law are concerned with human acts, in 
which the law directs, as stated above (Q. 90, AA. i, 2; Q. 91, A. 
4). Again, there are three kinds of human acts; for, as stated 
above,^^ some acts are good generically, viz., acts of virtue; and in 
respect of these the act of the law is a precept or command, for 
"the law commands all acts of virtue" {Ethics v. i). Some acts 
are evil generically, viz., acfs of vice, and in respect of these the 
law forbids. Some acts are generically indifferent, and in respect 
of these the law permits ; and all acts that are either not distinctly 
good or not distinctly bad may be called indifferent. — And it is 
the fear of punishment that law makes use of in order to ensure 
obedience, in which respect punishment is an effect of law. 

Reply Obj. i. Just as to cease from evil is a kind of good, so 
a prohibition is a kind of precept; and accordingly, taking pre- 
cept in a wide sense, every law is a kind of precept. 

Reply Obj. 2. To advise is not a proper act of law, but may be 
within the competency even of a private person, who cannot make 



28 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

a law. Wherefore, too, the Apostle, after giving a certain coun- 
sel says: ''I speak, not the Lord." ^^ Consequently it is not reck- 
oned as an effect of law. 

Reply Obj. 3. To reward may also pertain to anyone; but to 
punish pertains to none but the framer of the law, by whose au- 
thority the pain is inflicted. Wherefore to reward is not reckoned 
an effect of law, but only to punish. 

Reply Ob J. 4. From becoming accustomed to avoid evil and 
fulfill what is good, through fear of punishment, one is sometimes 
led on to do so likewise, with delight and of one's own accord. Ac- 
cordingly, law, even by punishing, leads men on to being good. 



QUESTION 93 

OF THE ETERNAL LAW 

{In Six Articles) 

We must now consider each law by itself; and (i) the eternal 
law, (2) the natural law, (3) the human law, (4) the Old Law, 
(5) the New Law, which is the law of the Gospel. Of the sixth 
law, which is the law of the "fomes," suffice what we have said 
when treating of original sin. 

Concerning the first there are six points of inquiry: (i) What 
is the eternal law? (2) Whether it is known to all? (3) Whether 
every law is derived from it? (4) Whether necessary things are 
subject to the eternal law? (5) Whether natural contingencies 
are subject to the eternal law? (6) Whether all human things are 
subject to it? 



First Article 

WHETHER THE ETERNAL LAW IS A SOVEREIGN TYPE* 
EXISTING IN GOD? 

We proceed thus to the First Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that the eternal law is not a sov- 
ereign iy?^ existing in God. For there is only one eternal law. But 
there are many types of things in the divine mind; for Augustine 
says that God "made each thing according to its type," ^ There- 
fore the eternal law does not seem to be a type existing in the 
divine mind. 

Obj. 2. Further, it is essential to a law that it be promulgated 
by word, as stated above (Q, 90, A. 4). But Word is a personal 
name in God, as stated in the First Part; ^ whereas t5^e refers to 
the essence. Therefore the eternal law is not the same as a divine 
type. 

a Ratio. 

29 



30 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

Obj. 3. Further, Augustine says: "We see a law above our 
minds, which is called truth." ^ But the law which is above qur 
minds is the eternal law. Therefore truth is the eternal law. But 
the idea of truth is not the same as the idea of a type. Therefore 
the eternal law is not the same as the sovereign tj^je. 

On the contrary, Augustine says that "the eternal law is the 
sovereign type, to which we must always conform." * 

/ answer that, Just as in every artificer there pre-exists a type 
of the things that are made by his art, so too in every governor 
there must pre-exist the type of the order of those things that are 
to be done by those who are subject to his government. And just 
as the type of the things yet to be made by an art is called the 
art or exemplar of the products of that art, so too the type in 
him who governs the acts of his subjects bears the character of a 
law, provided the other conditions be present which we have men- 
tioned above (Q. 90) . Now God, by His wisdom, is the creator of 
all things, in relation to which He stands as the artificer to the 
products of his art, as stated in the First Part.' Moreover, He 
governs all the acts and movements that are to be found in each 
single creature, as was also stated in the First Part.® Wherefore 
as the type of the divine wisdom, inasmuch as by it all things are 
created, has the character of art, exemplar or idea, so the type of 
divine wisdom, as moving all things to their due end, bears the 
character of law. Accordingly, the eternal law is nothing else 
than the type of divine wisdom, as directing all actions and 
movements. 

Reply Ob'], i. Augustine is speaking in that passage of the 
ideal iy^s, which regard the proper nature of each single thing; 
and consequently in them there is a certain distinction and plu- 
rality, according to their different relations to things, as stated in 
the First Part.'^ But law is said to direct human acts by ordain- 
ing them to the common good, as stated above (Q. 90, A. 2). And 
things, which are in themselves different, may be considered as 
one, according as they are ordained to one common thing. Where- 
fore the eternal law is one, since it is the type of this order. 

Reply Obj. 2 . With regard to any sort of word, two points may 
be considered: viz., the word itself and that which is expressed 



OF THE ETERNAL LAW 3 1 

by the word. For the spoken word is something uttered by the 
mouth of man and expresses that which is signified by the human 
word. The same applies to the human mental word, which is noth- 
ing else than something conceived by the mind, by which man 
expresses his thoughts mentally. So then in God the Word con- 
ceived by the intellect of the Father is the name of a person, but 
all things that are in the Father's knowledge, whether they refer 
to the essence or to the persons, or to the works of God, are ex- 
pressed by this Word, as Augustine declares.^ And, among other 
things expressed by this Word, the eternal law itself is expressed 
thereby. Nor does it follow that the eternal law is a personal name 
in God, yet it is appropriated to the Son, on account of the kin- 
ship between type and word. 

Reply Obj. 3. The t5TDes of the divine intellect do not stand 
in the same relation to things, as the types of the human intellect. 
For the human intellect is measured by things, so that a human 
concept is not true by reason of itself, but by reason of its being 
consonant with things, since [the fact that a thing is or is not de- 
termines whether the opinion is true or false] .^ But the divine 
intellect is the measure of things, since each thing has so far truth 
in it as it represents the divine intellect, as was stated in the First 
Part.® Consequently the divine intellect is true in itself, and its 
t5T)e is truth itself. 



Second Article 
WHETHER THE ETERNAL LAW IS KNOWN TO ALL? 

We proceed thus to the Second Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that the eternal law is not known 
to all. Because, as the Apostle says, "the things that are of God no 
man knoweth, but the Spirit of God." ^® But the eternal law is 
a type existing in the divine mind. Therefore it is unknown to all 
save God alone. 

Ob'j. 2. Further, as Augustine says, "the eternal law is that 
by which it is right that all things should be most orderly." ^^ 
^D.F. Tr.: an opinion is true or false according as it answers to the reality. 



32 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

But all do not know how all things are most orderly. Therefore 
all do not know the eternal law. 

Obj. 3. Further, Augustine says that "the eternal law is not 
subject to the judgment of man." ^^ But according to Ethics i, 
"Any man can judge well of what he knows." Therefore the eter- 
nal law is not known to us. 

On the contrary, Augustine says that "knowledge of the eternal 
law is imprinted on us." ^* 

/ answer that, A thing may be known in two ways: first, in it- 
self; secondly, in its effect, wherein some likeness of that thing is 
found; thus someone not seeing the sun in its substance may 
know it by its rays. So then no one can know the eternal law as 
it is in itself, except the blessed who see God in His essence. But 
every rational creature knows it in its reflection, greater or less. 
For every knowledge of truth is a kind of reflection and partici- 
pation of the eternal law, which is the unchangeable truth, as Au- 
gustine says.^* Now all men know the truth to a certain extent, 
at least as to the common principles of the natural law; and as 
to the others, they partake of the knowledge of truth, some more, 
some less; and in this respect are more or less cognizant of the 
eternal law. 

Reply Obj. i. We cannot know the things that are of God as 
they are in themselves; but they are made known to us in their 
effects, according to Romans i. 20: "The invisible things of God 
. . . are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are 
made." 

Reply Obj. 2. Although each one knows the eternal law ac- 
cording to his own capacity, in the way explained above, yet none 
can comprehend it, for it cannot be made perfectly known by its 
effects. Therefore it does not follow that anyone who knows the 
eternal law in the way aforesaid knows also the whole order of 
things, whereby they are most orderly. 

Reply Obj. 3. To judge of a thing may be understood in two 
ways. First, as when a cognitive power judges of its proper ob- 
ject, according to Job xii. 11: "Doth not the ear discern words, 
and the palate of him that eateth, the taste?" It is to this kind of 
judgment that the Philosopher alludes when he says that "any- 



OF THE ETERNAL LAW 33 

one can judge well of what he knows," by judging, namely, 
whether what is put forward is true. In another way we speak 
of a superior judging of a subordinate by a kind of practical judg- 
ment, as to whether he should be such and such or not. And thus 
none can judge of the eternal law. 



Third Article 

WHETHER EVERY LAW IS DERIVED FROM THE 
ETERNAL LAW? 

We proceed thus to the Third Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that not every law is derived from 
the eternal law. For there is a law of the "fomes," as stated above 
(Q. 91, A. 6), which is not derived from that divine law which 
is the eternal law, since thereunto pertains the "prudence of the 
flesh," of which the Apostle says that "it cannot be subject to 
the law of God." ^^ Therefore not every law is derived from the 
eternal law. 

Obj. 2. Further, nothing unjust can be derived from the eter- 
nal law, because, as stated above (A. 2, Obj. 2), "the eternal law 
is that according to which it is right that all things should be most 
orderly." But some laws are unjust, according to Isaias x. i: 
"Woe to them that make wicked laws." Therefore not every law 
is derived from the eternal law. 

Obj. 3. Further, Augustine says that "the law which is framed 
for ruling the people rightly permits many things which are pun- 
ished by divine providence." ^® But the type of divine providence 
is the eternal law, ^s stated above (A. i ) . Therefore not even ev- 
ery good law is derived from the eternal law. 

On the contrary, divine wisdom says: "By Me kings reign, and 
lawgivers decree just things." ^^ But the type of divine wisdom is 
the eternal law, as stated above (A. i ) . Therefore all laws proceed 
from the eternal law. 

I answer that, As stated above (Q. 90, AA. i, 2), law denotes 
a kind of plan directing acts toward an end. Now wherever there 
are movers ordained to one another, the power of the second 



34 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

mover must needs be derived from the power of the first mover, 
since the second mover does not move except in so far as it is 
moved by the first. Wherefore we observe the same in all those 
who govern, so that the plan of government is derived by sec- 
ondary governors from the governor-in-chief: thus the plan of 
what is to be done in a state flows from the king's command to 
his inferior administrators; and again in things of art the plan of 
whatever is to be done by art flows from the chief craftsman to 
the under-craftsmen who work with their hands. Since then the 
eternal law is the plan of government in the Chief Governor, all the 
plans of government in the inferior governors must be derived 
from the eternal law. But these plans of inferior governors are all 
other laws besides the eternal law. Therefore all laws, in so far 
as they partake of right reason, are derived from the eternal law. 
Hence Augustine says that "in temporal law there is nothing just 
and lawful but what man has drawn from the eternal law." ^® 

Reply Obj. i. The "fomes" has the nature of law in man in so 
far as it is a punishment resulting from divine justice; and in this 
respect it is evident that it is derived from the eternal law. But in 
so far as it denotes a proneness to sin, it is contrary to the divine 
law and has not the nature of law, as stated above (Q. 91, A. 6). 

Reply Obj. 2. Human law has the nature of law in so far as it 
partakes of right reason; and it is clear that, in this respect, it is 
derived from the eternal law. But in so far as it deviates from rea- 
son, it is called an unjust law and has the nature, not of law, but 
of violence. Nevertheless even an unjust law, in so far as it re- 
tains some appearance of law, through being framed by one who 
is in power, is derived from the eternal law, since all power is from 
the Lord God, according to Romans xiii. i. 

Reply Obj. 3. Human law is said to permit certain things, not as 
approving of them, but as being unable to direct them. And many 
things are directed by the divine law which human law is unable 
to direct, because more things are subject to a higher than to a 
lower cause. Hence the very fact that human law does not med- 
dle with matters it cannot direct comes under the ordination of 
the eternal law. It would be different were human law to sanction 



OF THE ETERNAL LAW 35 

what the eternal law condemns. Consequently it does not follow 
that human law is not derived from the eternal law, but that it is 
not on a perfect equality with it. 



Fourth Article 

WHETHER NECESSARY AND ETERNAL THINGS ARE 
SUBJECT TO THE ETERNAL LAW? 

We proceed thus to the Fourth Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that necessary and eternal things 
are subject to the eternal law. For whatever is reasonable is sub- 
ject to reason. But the divine will is reasonable, for it is just. 
Therefore it is subject to (the divine) reason. But the eternal law 
is the divine reason. Therefore God's will is subject to the eternal 
law. But God's will is eternal. Therefore eternal and necessary 
things are subject to the eternal law. 

Obj. 2. Further, whatever is subject to the King is subject to 
the King's law. Now the Son, according to i Corinthians xv. 28, 
24, "shall be subject ... to God and the Father . . . when He 
shall have delivered up the Kingdom to Him." Therefore the Son, 
Who is eternal, is subject to the eternal law. 

Obj. 3. Further, the eternal law is divine providence as a type. 
But many necessary things are subject to divine providence: for 
instance, the stability of incorporal substances and of the heav- 
enly bodies. Therefore even necessary things are subject to the 
eternal law. 

On the contrary, Things that are necessary cannot be other- 
wise, and consequently need no restraining. But laws are imposed 
on men in order to restrain them from evil, as explained above 
(Q. 92, A. 2). Therefore necessary things are not subject to the 
law."= 

/ answer that, As stated above (A. i), the eternal law is the type 
of the divine government. Consequently whatever is subject to 
the divine government is subject to the eternal law, while if any- 
«D.F. Tt.: eternal law. 



36 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

thing is not subject to the divine government, neither is it sub- 
ject to the eternal law. The application of this distinction may be 
gathered by looking around us. For those things are subject to 
human government which can be done by man; but what per- 
tains to the nature of man is not subject to human government; 
for instance, that he should have a soul, hands, or feet. Accord- 
ingly all that is in things created by God, whether it be contin- 
gent or necessary, is subject to the eternal law, while things per- 
taining to the divine nature or essence are not subject to the 
eternal law, but are the eternal law itself. 

Reply Ob'}, i. We may speak of God's will in two ways. First, 
as to the will itself ; and thus, since God's will is His very essence, 
it is subject neither to the divine government, nor to the eternal 
law, but is the same thing as the eternal law. Secondly, we may 
speak of God's will as to the things themselves that God wills 
about creatures; which things are subject to the eternal law in 
so far as they are planned by divine wisdom. In reference to these 
things God's will is said to be reasonable (rationalis) , though re- 
garded in itself it should rather be called their type (ratio). 

Reply Obj. 2. God the Son was not made by God, but was nat- 
urally born of God. Consequently He is not subject to divine 
providence or to the eternal law, but rather is Himself the eter- 
nal law by a kind of appropriation, as Augustine explains.^® But 
He is said to be subject to the Father by reason of His human na- 
ture, in respect of which also the Father is said to be greater than 
He. 

The third objection we grant, because it deals with those neces- 
sary things that are created. 

Reply Obj. 4.^ As the Philosopher says, some necessary things 
have a cause of their necessity, and thus they derive from some- 
thing else the fact that they cannot be otherwise.^" And this is in 
itself a most effective restraint, for whatever is restrained is said to 
be restrained in so far as it cannot do otherwise than it is allowed 
to. 
^ [This deals with On the contrary.^ 



of the eternal law 37 

Fifth Article 

WHETHER NATURAL CONTINGEN'^S ARE SUBJECT TO 
THE ETERNAL LAW? 

We proceed thus to the Fifth Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that natural contingents are not 
subject to the eternal law, because promulgation is essential to 
law, as stated above (Q. 90, A. 4). But a law cannot be promul- 
gated except to rational creatures to whom it is possible to make 
an announcement. Therefore none but rational creatures are sub- 
ject to the eternal law; and consequently natural contingents are 
not. 

Obj. 2. Further, "Whatever obeys reason partakes somewhat 
of reason," as stated in Ethics i. But the eternal law is the su- 
preme type, as stated above (A. i). Since, then, natural contin- 
gents do not partake of reason in any way, but are altogether void 
of reason, it seems that they are not subject to the eternal law. 

Obj. 3. Further, the eternal law is most efficient. But in nat- 
ural contingents defects occur. Therefore they are not subject to 
the eternal law. 

On the contrary, It is written: "When He compassed the sea 
with its bounds, and set a law to the waters, that they should not 
pass their limits." ^^ 

/ answer that, We must speak otherwise of the law of man than 
of the eternal law, which is the law of God. For the law of man 
extends only to rational creatures subject to man. The reason of 
this is because law directs the actions of those that are subject to 
the government of someone; wherefore, properly speaking, none 
imposes a law on his own actions. Now whatever is done regard- 
ing the use of irrational things subject to man is done by the act 
of man himself moving those things, for these irrational creatures 
do not move themselves, but are moved by others, as stated 
above.^^ Consequently man cannot impose laws on irrational be- 
ings, however much they may be subject to him. But he can im- 
pose laws on rational beings subject to him, in so far as by his 



38 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-II 

command or pronouncement of any kind he imprints on their 
minds a rule which is a principle of action. 

Now just as man, by such pronouncement, impresses a kind of 
inward principle of action on the man that is subject to him, so 
God imprints on the whole of nature the principles of its proper 
actions. And so, in this way, God is said to command the whole 
of nature, according to Psalm cxlviii. 6: "He hath made a decree, 
and it shall not pass away." And thus all actions and movements 
of the whole of nature are subject to the eternal law. Consequently 
irrational creatures are subject to the eternal law through being 
moved by divine providence, but not, as rational creatures are, 
through understanding the divine commandment. 

Reply Obj. i. The impression of an inward active principle is 
to natural things what the promulgation of law is to men, be- 
cause law, by being promulgated, imprints on man a directive 
principle of human actions, as stated above. 

Reply Obj. 2. Irrational creatures neither partake of, nor are 
obedient to, human reason, whereas they do partake of the divine 
reason by obeying it, because the power of divine reason extends 
over more things than human reason does. And as the members of 
the human body are moved at the command of reason, and yet do 
not partake of reason, since they have no apprehension subordi- 
nate to reason, so, too, irrational creatures are moved by God, 
without, on that account, being rational. 

Reply Obj. 3. Although the defects which occur in natural 
things are outside the order of particular causes, they are not out- 
side the order of universal causes, especially of the First Cause, 
i.e., God, from Whose providence nothing can escape, as stated 
in the First Part. ^^ And since the eternal law is the type of di- 
vine providence, as stated above (A. i), hence the defects of nat- 
ural things are subject to the eternal law. 



of the eternal law 39 

Sixth Article 

WHETHER ALL HUMAN AFFAIRS ARE SUBJECT TO THE 
ETERNAL LAW? 

We proceed thus to the Sixth Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that not all human affairs are sub- 
ject to the eternal law. For the Apostle says: "If you are led by 
the spirit you are not under the law." ^* But the righteous, who 
are the sons of God by adoption, are led by the spirit of God, ac- 
cording to Romans viii. 14: "Whosoever are led by the Spirit of 
God, they are the sons of God." Therefore not all men are under 
the eternal law. 

Obj. 2. Further, the Apostle says: "The prudence® of the flesh 
is an enemy to God, for it is not subject to the law of God." ^^ 
But many are those in whom the prudence of the flesh dominates. 
Therefore all men are not subject to the eternal law, which is the 
law of God. 

Obj. 3. Further, Augustine says that "the eternal law is that 
by which the wicked deserve misery, the good, a life of blessed- 
ness." ^* But those who are already blessed, and those who are 
already lost, are not in the state of merit. Therefore they are not 
under the eternal law. 

On the contrary, Augustine says: "Nothing evades the laws of 
the most high Creator and Governor, for by Him the peace of the 
universe is administered." ^"^ 

I answer that, There are two ways in which a thing is subject 
to the eternal law, as explained above (A. 5): first, by partaking 
of the eternal law by way of knowledge; secondly, by way of ac- 
tion and passion, i.e., by partaking of the eternal law by way of 
an inward motive principle; and in this second way, irrational 
creatures are subject to the eternal law, as stated above {ibid.). 
But since the rational nature, together with that which it has in 
common with all creatures, has something proper to itself inas- 
much as it is rational, consequently it is subject to the eternal 
law in both ways; because while each rational creature has some 
« Vulg.: wisdom. 



40 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-II 

knowledge of the eternal law, as stated above (A. 2), it also has 
a natural inclination to that which is in harmony with the eter- 
nal law, for "we are naturally adapted to be the recipients of 
virtue" {Ethics ii, i). 

Both ways, however, are imperfect and to a certain extent de- 
stroyed in the wicked, because in them the natural inclination to 
virtue is corrupted by vicious habits, and, moreover, the natural 
knowledge of good is darkened by passions and habits of sin. But 
in the good both ways are found more perfect, because in them, 
besides the natural knowledge of good, there is the added knowl- 
edge of faith and wisdom; and again, besides the natural inclina- 
tion to good, there is the added interior motive of grace and virtue. 

Accordingly the good are perfectly subject to the eternal law, 
as always acting according to it, whereas the wicked are subject 
to the eternal law, imperfectly as to their actions, indeed, since 
both their knowledge of good and their inclination thereto are 
imperfect; but this imperfection on the part of action is supplied 
on the part of passion in so far as they suffer what the eternal 
law decrees concerning them, according as they fail to act in har- 
mony with that law. Hence Augustine says: "I esteem that the 
righteous act according to the eternal law"; ^^ and: "Out of the 
just misery of the souls which deserted Him, God knew how to 
furnish the inferior parts of His creation with most suitable 
laws." 29 

Reply Ob'}. 1. This saying of the Apostle may be understood in 
two ways. First, so that a man is said to be under the law through 
being pinned down thereby, against his will, as by a load. Hence, 
on the same passage, a gloss says that "he is under the law who 
refrains from evil deeds through fear of the punishment threatened 
by the law, and not from love of virtue." In this way the spiritual 
man is not under the law, because he fulfills the law willingly, 
through charity which is poured into his heart by the Holy Ghost. 
Secondly, it can be understood as meaning that the works of a man 
who is led by the Holy Ghost are works of the Holy Ghost rather 
than his own. Therefore, since the Holy Ghost is not under the law, 
as neither is the Son, as stated above (A. 4 ccf 2 ), it follows that such 
works, in so far as they are of the Holy Ghost, are not under the 



OF THE ETERNAL LAW 4 1 

law. The Apostle witnesses to this when he says: "Where the 
Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." ^^ 

Reply Obj. 2. The prudence of the flesh cannot be subject to 
the law of God as regards action, since it inclines to actions con- 
trary to the divine law; yet it is subject to the law of God as re- 
gards passion, since it deserves to suffer punishment according to 
the law of divine justice. Nevertheless in no man does the pru- 
dence of the flesh dominate so far as to destroy the whole good 
of his nature; and consequently there remains in man the inclina- 
tion to act in accordance with the eternal law. For we have seen 
above ^^ that sin does not destroy entirely the good of nature. 

Reply Obj. 3. A thing is maintained in the end and moved to- 
ward the end by one and the same cause: thus gravity which 
makes a heavy body rest in the lower place is also the cause of 
its being moved thither. We therefore reply that as it is according 
to the eternal law that some deserve happiness, others unhappi- 
ness, so is it by the eternal law that some are maintained in a 
happy state, others in an unhappy state. Accordingly both the 
blessed and the damned are under the eternal law. 



QUESTION 94 

OF THE NATURAL LAW 

(In Six Articles) 

We must now consider the natural law, concerning which there are 
six points of inquiry: (i) What is the natural law? (2) What are 
the precepts of the natural law? (3) Whether all acts of virtue 
are prescribed by the natural law? (4) Whether the natural law 
is the same in all? (5) Whether it is changeable? (6) Whether it 
can be abolished from the heart of man? 



First Article 
WHETHER THE NATURAL LAW IS A HABIT? 

We proceed thus to the First Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that the natural law is a habit. Be- 
cause, as the Philosopher says, "there are three things in the soul: 
power, habit, and passion." ^ But the natural law is not one of 
the soul's powers, nor is it one of the passions, as we may see by 
going through them one by one. Therefore the natural law is a 
habit. 

Obj. 2. Further, Basil says that the conscience or "synderesis is 
the law of our mind," ^ which can only apply to the natural law. 
But the synderesis is a habit, as was shown in the First Part.^ 
Therefore the natural law is a habit. 

Obj. 3. Further, the natural law abides in man always, as will 
be shown further on (A. 6). But man's reason, [which is involved 
in law] ,* does not always think about the natural law. Therefore 
the natural law is not an act, but a habit. 

On the contrary, Augustine says that "a habit is that whereby 
something is done when necessary." ^ But such is not the natural 

* D.F. Tr.: which the law regards. 

42 



OF THE NATURAL LAW 43 

law, since it is in infants and in the damned who cannot act by it. 
Therefore the natural law is not a habit. 

/ answer that, A thing may be called a habit in two ways. First, 
properly and essentially: and thus the natural law is not a habit. 
For it has been stated above (Q. 90, k. 1 ad 2) that the natural 
law is something appointed by reason, just as a proposition is a 
work of reason. Now that which a man does is not the same as 
that whereby he does it, for he makes a becoming speech by the 
habit of grammar. Since, then, a habit is that by which we act, a 
law cannot be a habit, properly and essentially. 

Secondly, the term "habit" may be applied to that which we 
hold by a habit: thus faith may mean that which we hold by 
faith. And accordingly, since the precepts of the natural law are 
sometimes considered by reason actually, while sometimes they 
are in the reason only habitually, in this way the natural law may 
be called a habit. Thus, in speculative matters, the indemonstrable 
principles are not the habit itself whereby we hold those princi- 
ples, but are the principles the habit of which we possess. 

Reply Ob), i. The Philosopher proposes there to discover the 
genus of virtue; and since it is evident that virtue is a principle of 
action, he mentions only those things which are principles of hu- 
man acts, viz., powers, habits and passions. But there are other 
things in the soul besides these three: there are acts; thus to will 
is in the one that wills; again, things known are in the knower; 
moreover its own natural properties are in the soul, such as im- 
mortality and the like. 

Reply Obj. 2. Synderesis is said to be the law of our mind, be- 
cause it is a habit containing the precepts of the natural law, 
which are the first principles of human actions. 

Reply Obj. 3. This argument proves that the natural law is 
held habitually; and this is granted. 

To the argument advanced in the contrary sense we reply that 
sometimes a man is unable to make use of that which is in him ha- 
bitually, on account of some impediment: thus, on account of sleep, 
a man is unable to use the habit of science. In like manner, through 
the deficiency of his age, a child cannot use the habit of understand- 
ing of principles, or the natural law, which is in him habitually. 



44 summa theologica i-h 

Second Article 

WHETHER THE NATURAL LAW CONTAINS SEVERAL 
PRECEPTS, OR ONE ONLY? 

We proceed thus to the Second Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that the natural law contains, not 
several precepts, but one only. For law is a kind of precept, as 
stated above (Q. 92, A. 2). If therefore there were many precepts 
of the natural law, it would follow that there are also many natu- 
ral laws. 

Obj. 2 . Further, the natural law is consequent to human nature. 
But human nature, as a whole, is one, though, as to its parts, it 
is manifold. Therefore, either there is but one precept of the law 
of nature, on account of the unity of nature as a whole, or there 
are many, by reason of the number of parts of human nature. The 
result would be that even things relating to the inclination of the 
concupiscible faculty belong to the natural law. 

Obj. 3 . Further, law is something pertaining to reason, as stated 
above (Q. 90, A. i). Now reason is but one in man. Therefore 
there is only one precept of the natural law. 

On the contrary, The precepts of the natural law in man stand 
in relation to practical matters, as the first principles to matters 
of demonstration. But there are several first indemonstrable prin- 
ciples. Therefore there are also several precepts of the natural law. 

/ answer that, As stated above (Q. 91, A. 3), the precepts of 
the natural law are to the practical reason what the first princi- 
ples of demonstrations are to the speculative reason, because both 
are self-evident principles. Now a thing is said to be self-evident 
in two ways: first, in itself; secondly, in relation to us. Any propo- 
sition is said to be self-evident in itself if its predicate is contained 
in the notion of the subject, although to one Who knows not the 
definition of the subject it happens that such a proposition is not 
self-evident. For instance, this proposition, "Man is a rational be- 
ing," is, in its very nature, self-evident, since who says "man" 
says "a rational being"; and yet to one who knows not what a 
man is, this proposition is not self-evident. Hence it is that, as 



OF THE NATURAL LAW 4$ 

Boethius says, certain axioms or propositions are universally self- 
evident to all; ^ and such are those propositions whose terms are 
known to all, as, "Every whole is greater than its part," and, 
"Things equal to one and the same are equal to one another." But 
some propositions are self-evident only to the wise who under- 
stand the meaning of the terms of such propositions; thus to one 
who understands that an angel is not a body» it is self-evident that 
an angel is not circumspectively in a place; but this is not evi- 
dent to the unlearned, for they cannot grasp it. 

Now a certain order is to be found in those things that are ap- 
prehended universally. For that which, before aught else, falls un- 
der apprehension, is "being," the notion of which is included in all 
things whatsoever a man apprehends. Wherefore the first inde- 
monstrable principle is that the same thing cannot be affirmed and 
denied at the same time, which is based on the notion of "being" 
and "not-being"; and on this principle all others are based, as it 
is stated in Metaphysics iv. text. 9. Now as "being" is the first 
thing that falls under the apprehension simply, so "good" is the 
first thing that falls under the apprehension of the practical rea- 
son, which is directed to action, since every agent acts for an end 
under the aspect of good. Consequently the first principle in the 
practical reason is one founded on the notion of good, viz., that 
good is that which all things seek after. Hence this is the first pre- 
cept of law, that good is to be done and ensued, and evil is to be 
avoided. All other precepts of the natural law are based upon this, 
so that whatever the practical reason naturally apprehends as 
man's good (or evil) belongs to the precepts of the natural law as 
something to be done or avoided. 

Since, however, good has the nature of an end, and evil the 
nature of a contrary, hence it is that all those things to which 
man has a natural inclination are naturally apprehended by rea- 
son as being good and, consequently, as objects of pursuit, and 
their contraries as evil and objects of avoidance. Wherefore the 
order of the precepts of the natural law is according to the order 
of natural inclinations. Because in man there is first of all an in- 
clination to good in accordance with the nature which he has in 
common with all substances, inasmuch as every substance seeks the 



46 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-II 

preservation of its own being, according to its nature ; and by rea- 
son of this inclination, whatever is a means of preserving human 
life and of warding off its obstacles belongs to the natural law. 
Secondly, there is in man an inclination to things that pertain to 
him more specially, according to that nature which he has in com- 
mon with other animals; and in virtue of this inclination, those 
things are said to belong to the natural law "which nature has 
taught to all animals," ^ such as sexual intercourse, education of 
offspring, and so forth. Thirdly, there is in man an inclination to 
good, according to the nature of his reason, which nature is proper 
to him: thus man has a natural inclination to know the truth about 
God and to live in society; and in this respect, whatever pertains 
to this inclination belongs to the natural law, for instance, to shun 
ignorance, to avoid offending those among whom one has to live, 
and other such things regarding the above inclination. 

Reply Obj. i. All these precepts of the law of nature have the 
character of one natural law, inasmuch as they flow from one first 
precept. 

Reply Obj. 2. All the inclinations of any parts whatsoever of 
human nature, e.g., of the concupiscible and irascible parts, in so 
far as they are ruled by reason, belong to the natural law and are 
reduced to one first precept, as stated above, so that the precepts 
of the natural law are many in themselves, but are based on one 
common foundation. 

Reply Obj. 3. Although reason is one in itself, yet it directs all 
things regarding man, so that whatever can be ruled by reason is 
contained under the law of reason. 



Third Article 

WHETHER ALL ACTS OF VIRTUE ARE PRESCRIBED BY 
THE NATURAL LAW? 

We proceed thus to the Third Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that not all acts of virtue are pre- 
scribed by the natural law. Because, as stated above (Q. 90, A. 2), 
*» Justinian, Digest I, tit.i. 



OF THE NATURAL LAW 47 

it is essential to a law that it be ordained to the common good. 
But some acts of virtue are ordained to the private good of the 
individual, as is evident especially in regard to acts of temperance. 
Therefore not all acts of virtue are the subject of natural law. 

Obj. 2. Further, every sin is opposed to some virtuous act. If 
therefore all acts of virtue are prescribed by the natural law, it 
seems to follow that all sins are against nature, whereas this ap- 
plies to certain special sins. 

Obj. 3. Further, those things which are according to nature 
are common to all. But acts of virtue are not common to all, 
since a thing is virtuous in one, and vicious in another. There- 
fore not all acts of virtue are prescribed by the natural law. 

On the contrary, Damascene says that "virtues are natural."* 
Therefore virtuous acts also are a subject of the natural law. 

/ answer that, We may speak of virtuous acts in two ways: first, 
under the aspect of virtuous; secondly, as such and such acts 
considered in their proper species. If then we speak of acts of 
virtue considered as virtuous, thus all virtuous acts belong to the 
natural law. For it has been stated (A. 2) that to the natural law 
belongs everything to which a man is inclined according to his 
nature. Now each thing is inclined naturally to an operation that 
is suitable to it according to its form: thus fire is inclined to give 
heat. Wherefore, since the rational soul is the proper form of man, 
there is in every man a natural inclination to act according to 
reason; and this is to act according to virtue. Consequently, con- 
sidered thus, all acts of virtue are prescribed by the natural law, 
since each one's reason naturally dictates to him to act virtuously. 
But if we speak of virtuous acts considered in themselves, i.e., in 
their proper species, thus not all virtuous acts are prescribed by 
the natural law, the many things are done virtuously to which 
nature does not incline at first, but which, through the inquiry of 
reason, have been found by men to be conducive to well-living. 

Reply Obj. i. Temperance is about the natural concupiscences 
of food, drink, and sexual matters, which are indeed ordained to 
the natural common good, just as other matters of law'' are or- 
dained to the moral common good, 
c [See Glossary under legal.^ 



48 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

Reply Obj. 2. By human nature we may mean either that 
which is proper to man — and in this sense all sins, as being against 
reason, are also against nature, as Damascene states ^ — or we 
may mean that nature which is common to man and other ani- 
mals; and in this sense, certain special sins are said to be against 
nature: thus contrary to sexual intercourse, which is natural to all 
animals, is unisexual lust, which has received the special name of 
the unnatural crime. 

Reply Obj. 3. This argument considers acts in themselves. For 
it is owing to the various conditions of men that certain acts are 
virtuous for some, as being proportionate and becoming to them, 
while they are vicious for others, as being out of proportion to 
them. 



Fourth Article 

WHETHER THE NATURAL LAW IS THE SAME IN ALL 

MEN? 

We proceed thus to the Fourth Article: 

Objection i . It would seem that the natural law is not the same 
in all. For it is stated in the Decretals that "the natural law is that 
which is contained in the Law and the Gospel."* But this is not 
common to all men because, as it is written, "all do not obey the 
gospel." ^ Therefore the natural law is not the same in all men. 

Obj. 2. Further, "Things which are according to the law are 
said to be just," as stated in Ethics v. But it is stated in the same 
book that nothing is so universally just as not to be subject to 
change in regard to some men. Therefore, even the natural law is 
not the same in all men. 

Obj. 3. Further, as stated above (AA. 2, 3), to the natural law 
belongs everything to which a man is inclined according to his 
nature. Now different men are naturally inclined to different things, 
some to the desire of pleasures, others to the desire of honors, and 
other men to other things. Therefore, there is not one natural law 
for all. 



OF THE NATURAL LAW 49 

On the contrary, Isidore says: "The natural law is common to 
all nations." ^^ 

I answer that, As stated above (AA. 2, 3), to the natural law 
belong those things to which a man is inclined naturally; [and 
among these it is a special property of man to be inclined to act 
according to reason. Now reason proceeds from what is common, 
or general, to what is proper, or special, as stated in Physics i. But 
there is a difference in this regard between the speculative reason 
and practical reason. The speculative reason is concerned primarily 
with what is necessary, that is, with those things which cannot be 
other than they are; and therefore, in the case of speculative reason, 
both the common principles and the special conclusions are neces- 
sarily true. In the case of the practical reason, on the other hand, 
which is concerned with contingent matters, such as human actions, 
even though there be some necessary truth in the common princi- 
ples, yet the more we descend to what is proper and peculiar, the 
more deviations we find. Therefore in speculative matters the same 
truth holds among all men both as to principles and as to conclu- 
sions, even though all men do not discern this truth in the con- 
clusions but only in those principles which are called axiomatic 
notions. In active matters, on the other hand, all men do not hold 
to the same truth or practical rectitude in what is peculiar and 
proper, but only in what is common. And even among those who 
hold to the same line of rectitude in proper and peculiar matters, 
such rectitude is not equally known to all. It is clear, therefore, 
that as far as common principles are concerned in the case of specu- 
lative as well as of practical reason the same truth and the same 
rectitude exists among all and is equally known to all. In the case, 
however, of the proper or peculiar conclusions of speculative reason, 
the same truth obtains among all, even though it is not known 
equally to all. For it is true among all men that the three angles of 
a triangle are equal to two right angles, even though not all men 
know this. But in the case of the proper or peculiar conclusions of 
the practical reason there is neither the same truth and rectitude 
among all men, nor, where it does exist, is it equally known to all. 
Thus it is true and right among all men that action proceed in ac- 



so SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

cordance with reason. From this principle there follows as a proper 
conclusion that deposits should be restored to the owner. This con- 
clusion is indeed true in the majority of cases. But a case may pos- 
sibly arise in which such restitution is harmful and consequently 
contrary to reason; so, for example, if things deposited were 
claimed so that they might be used against the fatherland. This 
uncertainty increases the more particular the cases become: as, for 
example, if it were laid down that the restitution should take place 
in a certain way, with certain definite precautions ; for as the limit- 
ing particular conditions become more numerous, so do the possi- 
bilities decrease that render the principle normally applicable, with 
the result that neither the restitution nor the failure to do so can 
be rigorously presented as right. 

It follows therefore that natural law in its first common prin- 
ciples is the same among all men, both as to validity and recognition 
(something is right for all and is so by all recognized). But as to 
certain proper or derived norms, which are, as it were, conclusions 
of these common principles, they are valid and are so recognized 
by all men only in the majority of cases. For in special cases they 
may prove defective both as to validity because of certain particular 
impediments (just as things of nature in the sphere of generation 
and corruption prove to be defective because of impediments) and 
also as to recognition. And this because some men have a reason 
that has been distorted by passion, or by evil habits, or by bad 
natural relations. Such was the case among the ancient Germans, 
who failed to recognize theft as contrary to justice, as Julius Caesar 
relates,^^ even though it is an explicit violation of natural law.] ^ 

Reply Obj. i. The meaning of the sentence quoted is not that 
whatever is contained in the Law and the Gospel belongs to the 
natural law, since they contain many things that are above nature, 
but that whatever belongs to the natural law is fully contained in 
them. Wherefore Gratian, after saying that "the natural law is 
what is contained in the Law and the Gospel," adds at once, by 
way of example, "by which everyone is commanded to do to others 
as he would be done by." 

^ The editor has retranslated the bracketed passage. For the Dominican 
Fathers' translation see Appendix, Note 12. 



OF THE NATURAL LAW $1 

Reply Obj. 2 . The saying of the Philosopher is to be understood 
of things that are naturally just, not as general principles, but as 
conclusions drawn from them, having rectitude in the majority of 
cases, but failing in a few. 

Reply Obj. 3. As, in man, reason rules and commands the other 
powers, so all the natural inclinations belonging to the other powers 
must needs be directed according to reason. Wherefore it is uni- 
versally right for all men that all their inclinations should be 
directed according to reason. 



Fifth Article 
WHETHER THE NATURAL LAW CAN BE CHANGED? 

We proceed thus to the Fifth Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that the natural law can be changed. 
Because on Ecclesiasticus xvii. 9, "He gave them instructions, and 
the law of life," the gloss says: "He wished the law of the letter 
to be written, in order to correct the law of nature." But that 
which is corrected is changed. Therefore the natural law can be 
changed. 

Obj. 2. Further, the slaying of the innocent, adultery, and theft 
are against the natural law. But we find these things changed by 
God: as when God commanded Abraham to slay his innocent 
son; ^^ and when He ordered the Jews to borrow and purloin the 
vessels of the Egyptians; ^* and when He commanded Osee to take 
to himself "a wife of fornications." ^^ Therefore the natural law can 
be changed. 

Obj. 3. Further, Isidore says that "the possession of all things 
in common and universal freedom are matters of natural law." ^® 
But these things are seen to be changed by human laws. Therefore 
it seems that the natural law is subject to change. 

On the contrary, It is said in the Decretals: "The natural law 
dates from the creation of the rational creature. It does not vary 
according to time, but remains unchangeable." ^'^ 

/ answer that, A change in the natural law may be understood 
in two ways. First, by way of addition. In this sense nothing 



52 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

hinders the natural law from being changed, since many things, 
for the benefit of human life, have been added over and above the 
natural law, both by the divine law and by human laws. 

Secondly, a change in the natural law may be understood by 
way of subtraction, so that what previously was according to the 
natural law ceases to be so. In this sense the natural law is alto- 
gether unchangeable in its first principles, but in its secondary 
principles, which, as we have said (A. 4), are certain [special] * 
conclusions drawn from the first principles, the natural law is not 
changed so that what it prescribes be not right in most cases. But 
it may be changed in some particular cases of rare occurrence, 
through some special causes hindering the observance of such 
precepts, as stated above (A. 4). 

Reply Obj. 1 . The written law is said to be given for the correc- 
tion of the natural law, either because it supplies what was wanting 
to the natural law or because the natural law was perverted in the 
hearts of some men, as to certain matters, so that they esteemed 
those things good which are naturally evil ; which perversion stood 
in need of correction. 

Reply Obj. 2. All men alike, both guilty and innocent, die the 
death of nature; which death of nature is inflicted by the power 
of God on account of original sin, according to i Kings ii. 6: "The 
Lord killeth and maketh alive." Consequently, by the command 
of God, death can be inflicted on any man, guilty or innocent, 
without any injustice whatever. — In like manner adultery is inter- 
course with another's wife, who is allotted to him by the law 
emanating from God. Consequently intercourse with any woman, 
by the command of God, is neither adultery nor fornication. — ^The 
same applies to theft, which is the taking of another's property. For 
whatever is taken by the command of God, to Whom all things 
belong, is not taken against the will of its owner, whereas it is in 
this that theft consists. Nor is it only in human things that what- 
ever is commanded by God is right, but also in natural things — 
whatever is done by God is, in some way, natural, as stated in the 
First Part.18 

Reply Obj. 3. A thing is said to belong to the natural law in two 
e D.F. Tr. : detailed proximate. 



OF THE NATURAL LAW 53 

ways. First, because nature inclines thereto: e.g., that one should 
not do harm to another. Secondly, because nature did not bring 
in the contrary: thus we might say that for man to be naked is of 
the natural law because nature did not give him clothes, but art 
invented them. In this sense, "the possession of all things in com- 
mon and universal freedom" are said to be of the natural law be- 
cause, to wit, the distinction of possessions and slavery were not 
brought in by nature, but devised by human reason for the benefit 
of human life. Accordingly the law of nature was not changed in 
this respect, except by addition. 



Sixth Article 

WHETHER THE LAW OF NATURE CAN BE ABOLISHED 
FROM THE HEART OF MAN? 

We proceed thus to the Sixth Article: 

Objection i . It would seem that the natural law can be abolished 
from the heart of man. Because on Romans ii. 14, "When the 
Gentiles who have not the law," etc., a gloss says that "the law of 
righteousness, which sin had blotted out, is graven on the heart of 
man when he is restored by grace." But the law of righteousness 
is the law of nature. Therefore the law of nature can be blotted 
out. 

Obj. 2. Further, the law of grace is more efficacious than the 
law of nature. But the law of grace is blotted out by sin. Much 
more therefore can the law of nature be blotted out. 

Obj. 3. Further, that which is established by law is made just. 
But many things are [established by law] * which are contrary to 
the law of nature. Therefore the law of nature can be abolished 
from the heart of man. 

On the contrary, Augustine says: "Thy law is written in the 
hearts of men, which iniquity itself effaces not." ^^ But the law 
which is written in men's hearts is the natural law. Therefore the 
natural law cannot be blotted out. 

/ answer that, As stated above (AA. 4, 5), there belong to the 
' D.F. Tr-: enacted by men. 



54 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

natural law, first, certain most general precepts, that are known to 
aU; and secondly, certain secondary and more detailed precepts, 
which are, as it were, conclusions following closely from first prin- 
ciples. As to those general principles, the natural law, in the ab- 
stract, can nowise be blotted out from men's hearts. But it is 
blotted out in the case of a particular action, in so far as reason 
is hindered from applying the general principle to a particular 
point of practice, on account of concupiscence or some other pas- 
sion, as stated above.^^ But as to the other, i.e., the secondary 
precepts, the natural law can be blotted out from the human 
heart either by evil persuasions, just as in speculative matters 
errors occur in respect of necessary conclusions, or by vicious cus- 
toms and corrupt habits, as among some men theft and even un- 
natural vices, as the Apostle states, were not esteemed sinful.^^ 

Reply Obj. i . Sin blots out the law of nature in particular cases, 
not universally, except perchance in regard to the secondary pre- 
cepts of the natural law, in the way stated above. 

Reply Obj. 2. Although grace is more efficacious than nature, 
yet nature is more essential to man and therefore more enduring. 

Reply Obj. 3. The argument is true of the secondary precepts 
of the natural law, against which some legislators have framed 
certain enactments which are unjust. 



QUESTION 95 

OF HUMAN LAW 

(In Four Articles) 

We must now consider human law, and ( i ) this law considered in 
itself, (2) its power, (3) its mutability. Under the first head there 
are four points of inquiry: (i) its utility; (2) its origin; (3) its 
quality; (4) its division. 

FmsT Article 

WHETHER IT WAS USEFUL FOR LAWS TO BE FRAMED 

BY MEN? 

We proceed thus to the First Article: 

Objection i . It would seem that it was not useful for laws to be 
framed by men. Because the purpose of every law is that man be 
made good thereby, as stated above (Q. 92, A. i). But men are 
more to be induced to be good willingly, by means of admonitions, 
than against their will, by means of laws. Therefore there was no 
need to frame laws. 

Obj. 2. Further, as the Philosopher says, "men have recourse 
to a judge as to animate justice." ^ But animate justice is better 
than inanimate justice, which is contained in laws. Therefore it 
would have been better for the execution of justice to be entrusted 
to the decision of judges than to frame laws in addition. 

Obj. 3 . Further, every law is framed for the direction of human 
actions, as is evident from what has been stated above (Q. 90, 
AA. I, 2). But since human actions are about singulars, which are 
infinite in number, matters pertaining to the direction of human 
actions cannot be taken into sufficient consideration except by a 
wise man, who looks into each one of them. Therefore it would 
have been better for human acts to be directed by the judgment 

55 



56 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-II 

of wise men than by the framing of laws. Therefore there was no 
need of human laws. 

On the contrary, Isidore says: "Laws were made that in fear 
thereof human audacity might be held in check, that innocence 
might be safeguarded in the midst of wickedness, and that the 
dread of punishment might prevent the wicked from doing harm." ^ 
But these things are most necessary to mankind. Therefore it was 
necessary that human laws should be made. 

/ answer that, As stated above (Q. 63, A. i; Q. 94, A. 3), man 
has a natural aptitude for virtue, but the perfection of virtue must 
be acquired by man by means of some kind of training. Thus we 
observe that man is helped by industry in his necessities, for in- 
stance, in food and clothing. Certain beginnings of these he has 
from nature, viz., his reason and his hands, but he has not the full 
complement, as other animals have to whom nature has given suf- 
ficiency of clothing and food. Now it is difficult to see how man 
could suffice for himself in the matter of this training, since the 
perfection of virtue consists chiefly in withdrawing man from un- 
due pleasures, to which above all man is inclined, and especially 
the young, who are more capable of being trained. Consequently 
a man needs to receive this training from another, whereby to 
arrive at the perfection of virtue. And as to those young people 
who are inclined to acts of virtue, by their good natural disposi- 
tion, or by custom, or rather by the gift of God, paternal training 
suffices, which is by admonitions. But since some are found to be 
depraved and prone to vice, and not easily amenable to words, it 
was necessary for such to be restrained from evil by force and 
fear, in order that, at least, they might desist from evil-doing and 
leave others in peace, and that they themselves, by being habitu- 
ated in this way, might be brought to do willingly what hitherto 
they did from fear, and thus become virtuous. Now this kind of 
training which compels through fear of punishment is the discipline 
of laws. Therefore, in order that man might have peace and virtue, 
it was necessary for laws to be framed, for, as the Philosopher says, 
"as man is the most noble of animals if he be perfect in virtue, so 
is he the lowest of all if he be severed from law and righteous- 
ness": ^ because man can use his reason to devise means of satis- 



OF HUMAN LAW 57 

fying his lusts and evil passions, which other animals are unable 
to do. 

Reply Ob), i. Men who are well disposed are led willingly to 
virtue by being admonished better than by coercion, but men who 
are evilly disposed are not led to virtue unless they are compelled. 

Reply Obj. 2. As the Philosopher says, "It is better that all 
things be regulated by law than left to be decided by judges"; * 
and this for three reasons. First, because it is easier to find a few 
wise men competent to frame right laws than to find the many who 
would be necessary to judge aright of each single case. Secondly, 
because those who make laws consider long beforehand what laws 
to make, whereas judgment on each single case has to be pro- 
nounced as soon as it arises; and it is easier for man to see what 
is right by taking many instances into consideration than by con- 
sidering one solitary fact. Thirdly, because lawgivers judge in the 
abstract and of future events, whereas those who sit in judgment 
judge of things present, toward which they are affected by love, 
hatred, or some kind of cupidity; wherefore their judgment is 
perverted. 

Since then the animated justice of the judge is not found in 
every man, and since it can be deflected, therefore it was neces- 
sary, whenever possible, for the law to determine how to judge, 
and for very few matters to be left to the decision of men. 

Reply Obj. 3. Certain individual facts which cannot be covered 
by the law "have necessarily to be committed to judges," as the 
Philosopher says in the same passage; for instance, "concerning 
something that has happened or not happened," and the like. 



Second Article 

WHETHER EVERY HUMAN LAW IS DERIVED FROM THE 
NATURAL LAW? 

We proceed thus to the Second Article: 

Objection i . It would seem that not every human law is derived 
from the natural law. For the Philosopher says that "the legal just 
is that which originally was a matter of indifference." ^ But those 



58 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-II 

things which arise from the natural law are not matters of indif- 
ference. Therefore the enactments of human laws are not all de- 
rived from the natural law. 

Obj. 2. Further, positive law is contrasted with natural law, as 
stated by Isidore ® and the Philosopher."^ But those things which 
flow as conclusions from the general principles of the natural law 
belong to the natural law, as stated above (Q. 94, A. 4). There- 
fore that which is established by human law does not belong to the 
natural law. 

Ob']. 3. Further, the law of nature is the same for all, since the 
Philosopher says that "the natural just is that which is equally 
valid everywhere." ^ If, therefore, human laws were derived from 
the natural law, it would follow that they too are the same for all, 
which is clearly false. 

Obj. 4. Further, it is possible to give a reason for things which 
are derived from the natural law. But "it is not possible to give 
the reason for all the legal enactments of the lawgivers," as the 
Jurist says.^ Therefore not all human laws are derived from the 
natural law. 

On the contrary, Cicero says: "Things which emanated from 
nature and were approved by custom were sanctioned by fear and 
reverence for the laws." ^^ 

/ answer that, As Augustine says, "that which is not just seems 
to be no law at all";^^ wherefore the force of a law depends on the 
extent of its justice. Now in human affairs a thing is said to be 
just from being right according to the rule of reason. But the first 
rule of reason is the law of nature, as is clear from what has been 
stated above (Q. 91, A. 2 ad 2). Consequently, every human law 
has just so much of the nature of law as it is derived from the 
law of nature. But if in any point it deflects from the law of 
nature, it is no longer a law but a perversion of law. 

But it must be noted that something may be derived from the 
natural law in two ways: first, as a conclusion from premises; 
secondly, by way of determination of certain generalities. The first 
way is like to that by which, in the sciences, demonstrated con- 
clusions are drawn from the principles, while the second mode is 
likened to that whereby, in the arts, general forms are particu- 



OF HUMAN LAW SQ 

larized as to details: thus the craftsman needs to determine the 
general form of a house to some particular shape. Some things are 
therefore derived from the general principles of the natural law 
by way of conclusions, e.g., that "one must not kill" may be de- 
rived as a conclusion from the principle that ''one should do harm 
to no man"; while some are derived therefrom by way of deter- 
mination, e.g., the law of nature has it that the evildoer should be 
punished ; but that he be punished in this or that way is not directly 
by natural law but is a derived determination of it. 

Accordingly, both modes of derivation are found in the human 
law. But those things which are derived in the first way are con- 
tained in human law, not as emanating therefrom exclusively, but 
having some force from the natural law also. But those things 
which are derived in the second way have no other force than that 
of human law. 

Reply Obj. i. The Philosopher is speaking of those enactments 
which are by way of determination or specification of the precepts 
of the natural law. 

Reply Obj. 2 . This argument avails for those things that are de- 
rived from the natural law, by way of conclusions. 

Reply Obj. 3. The general principles of the natural law cannot 
be applied to all men in the same way, on account of the great 
variety of human affairs, and hence arises the diversity of positive 
laws among various people. 

Reply Obj. 4. These words of the Jurist are to be understood as 
referring to decisions of rulers in determining particular points of 
the natural law, on which determinations the judgment of expert 
and prudent men is based as on its principles, in so far, to wit, as 
they see at once what is the best thing to decide. 

Hence the Philosopher says that in such matters "we ought to 
pay as much attention to the undemonstrated sayings and opinions 
of persons who surpass us in experience, age, and prudence as to 
their demonstrations." ^^ 



60 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 



Third Article 



WHETHER ISIDORE'S DESCRIPTION OF THE QUALITY 
OF POSITIVE LAW IS APPROPRIATE? 

We proceed thus to the Third Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that Isidore's description of the 
quality of positive law is not appropriate, when he says: "Law 
shall be virtuous, just [possible, in agreement with nature, and in 
agreement with the customs of the country] ,^ suitable to place and 
time, necessary, useful; clearly expressed, lest by its obscurity it 
lead to misunderstanding ; framed for no private benefit, but for the 
common good." ^^ Because he had previously expressed the qual- 
ity of law in three conditions, saying that "law is anything founded 
on reason provided that it foster religion, be helpful to discipline, 
and further the common weal." Thereiore it was needless to add 
any further conditions to these. 

Ob']. 2. Further, justice is included m [virtue], as Cicero says.^* 
Therefore after saying ["virtuous"] ^ it was superfluous to add 
"just." 

Obj. 3. Further, written law [is contrasted to] ^ custom, accord- 
ing to Isidore.^^ Therefore it should not be stated in the definition 
of law that it is "in agreement with the customs of the country." 

Ob']. 4. Further, a thing may be necessary in two ways. It may 
be necessary simply because it cannot be otherwise; and that 
which is necessary in this way is not subject to human judgment, 
wherefore human law is not concerned with necessity of this kind. 
Again a thing may be necessary for an end, and this necessity is the 
same as usefulness. Therefore it is superfluous to say both "neces- 
sary" and "useful." 

On the contrary stands the authority of Isidore. 

/ answer that, Whenever a thing is for an end, its form must be 
determined proportionately to that end, as the form of a saw is 

* D.F. Tr.: possible to nature, according to the custom of the country. 
bD.F. Tr.: "honesty" and "honest," respectively. 
cD.F. Tr.: is condivided with. 



OF HUMAN LAW 6 1 

such as to be suitable for cutting (Physics ii, text. 88). Again, 
everything that is ruled and measured must have a form propor- 
tionate to its rule and measure. Now both these conditions are 
verified of human law, since it is both something ordained to an end 
and is a rule or measure ruled or measured by a higher measure. 
And this higher measure is twofold, viz., the divine law and the 
natural law, as explained above (A. 2 ; Q. 93, A. 3). Now the end 
of human law is to be useful to man, as the Jurist states.^* Where- 
fore Isidore, in determining the nature of law, lays down, at first, 
three conditions: viz., that it "foster religion," inasmuch as it is 
proportionate to the divine law; that it be ^'helpful to discipline," 
inasmuch as it is proportionate to the natural law; and that it 
"further the common weal," inasmuch as it is proportionate to the 
utility of mankind. 

All the other conditions mentioned by him are reduced to these 
three. For it is called "virtuous" because it fosters religion. And 
when he goes on to say that it should be "just, [possible, in accord 
with nature, and in accordance with the customs of the country,] ^ 
adapted to place and time," he implies that it should be helpful to 
discipline. For human discipline depends, first, on the order of rea- 
son, to which he refers by saying "just"; secondly, [it depends on 
the capacity of the agent, because discipline must be suitable to 
each one according to his possibility, taking into account also the 
possibility of nature] ® (for the same burdens should be not laid 
on children as on adults) , and should be according to human cus- 
toms, since man cannot live alone in society, paying no heed to 
others; thirdly, it depends on certain circumstances, in respect of 
which he says, "adapted to place and time." — ^The remaining words, 
"necessary," "useful," etc., mean that law should further the com- 
mon weal, so that "necessity" refers to the removal of evils, "use- 
fulness" to the attainment of good, "clearness of expression" to the 
need of preventing any harm ensuing from the law itself. — ^And 

"*D.F. Tr.: possible to nature, according to the customs of the country, 
* D.F. Tr.: it depends on the ability of the agent, because discipline should be 
adapted to each one according to his ability, taking ako into account the 
ability of nature. 



62 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

since, as stated above (Q. 90, A. 2), law is ordained to the common 
good this is expressed in the last part of the description. 
This suffices for the Replies to the Objections. 



Fourth Article 

WHETHER ISIDORE'S DIVISION OF HUMAN LAWS IS 
APPROPRIATE? 

We proceed thus to the Fourth Article: 

Objection 1 . It would seem that Isidore wrongly divided human 
statutes or human law. For under this law he includes the "law of 
nations," so called, because, as he says, "nearly all nations use it." 
But as he says, "natural law is that which is common to all 
nations." ^'^ Therefore the law of nations is not contained under 
positive human law, but rather under natural law. 

Obj. 2. Further, those laws which have the same force seem to 
differ not formally but only materially. But "statutes, decrees of 
the commonalty, senatorial decrees," and the like which he men- 
tions, all have the same force.^^ Therefore they do not differ ex- 
cept materially. But art takes no notice of such a distinction, since 
it may go on to infinity. Therefore this division of human laws is 
not appropriate. 

Obj. 3. Further, just as, in the state, there are princes, priests, 
and soldiers, so are there other human offices. Therefore it seems 
that, as this division includes "military law," and "public law," 
referring to priests and magistrates, so also it should include other 
laws pertaining to other offices of the state. 

Obj. 4. Further, those things that are accidental should be passed 
over. But it is accidental to law that it be framed by this or that 
man. Therefore it is unreasonable to divide laws according to the 
names of lawgivers, so that one be called the Cornelian law, an- 
other the Falcidian law, etc. 

On the contrary, The authority of Isidore {Objection i) suffices. 

/ answer that, A thing can of itself be divided in respect of 
something contained in the notion of that thing. Thus a soul either 
' [I.e., "essentially," as contrasted with "by accident."] 



OF HUMAN LAW 63 

rational or irrational is contained in the notion of animal; and 
therefore animal is divided properly and of itself ^ in r-espect of its 
being rational or irrational, but not in the point of its being white 
or black, which are entirely beside the notion of animal. Now, in 
the notion of human law, many things are contained in respect of 
any of which human law can be divided properly and of itself.^ 
For in the first place it belongs to the notion of human law to be 
derived from the law of nature, as explained above (A. 2). In this 
respect positive law is divided into the "law of nations" and "civil 
law," according to the two ways in which something may be de- 
rived from the law of nature, as stated above (A. 2). Because to 
the law of nations belong those things which are derived from the 
law of nature as conclusions from premises, e.g., just buyings and 
sellings, and the like, without which men cannot live together, 
which is a point of the law of nature, since man is by nature a 
social animal, as is proved in Politics 1.2. But those things which 
are derived from the law of nature by way of particular deter- 
mination belong to the civil law, according as each state decides 
on what is best for itself. 

Secondly, it belongs to the notion of human law to be ordained 
to the common good of the state. In this respect human law may 
be divided according to the different kinds of men who work in a 
special way for the common good: e.g., priests, by praying to God 
for the people; princes, by governing the people; soldiers, by 
fighting for the safety of the people. Wherefore certain special 
kinds of law are adapted to these men. 

Thirdly, it belongs to the notion of human law to be framed by 
that one who governs the community of the state, as shown above 
(Q. 90, A. 3). In this respect there are various human laws accord- 
ing to the various forms of government. Of these, according to the 
Philosopher,^^ one is monarchy, i.e., when the state is governed by 
one, and then we have "royal ordinances." Another form is aris- 
tocracy, i.e., government by the best men or men of highest rank, 
and then we have the "authoritative legal opinions" {Responsa 
Prudentum) and "decrees of the senate" {Senatus consulta). An- 
other form is oligarchy, i.e., government by a few rich and power- 
s [See p. 62, Note f.] 



64 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

ful men, and then we have "Praetorian," also called "honorary," 
law. Another form of government is that of the people, which is 
called democracy, and there we have "decrees of the commonalty" 
(Plebiscita). There is also tyrannical government, which is alto- 
gether corrupt, which, therefore, has no corresponding law. Finally, 
there is a form of government made up of all these, and which is the 
best; and in this respect we have "law [(in its more proper sense) 
sanctioned by the Elders] ^ and Commons," as stated by Isidore.^*' 

Fourthly, it belongs to the notion of human law to direct human 
actions. In this respect, according to the various matters of which 
the law treats, there are various kinds of laws, which are some- 
times named after their authors: thus we have the Lex Julia about 
adultery, the Lex Cornelia concerning assassins, and so on, dif- 
ferentiated in this way, not on account of the authors, but on 
account of the matters to which they refer. 

Reply Obj. i . The law of nations is indeed, in some way, natural 
to man, in so far as he is a reasonable being, because it is derived 
from the natural law by way of a conclusion that is not very remote 
from its premises. Wherefore men easily agreed thereto. Neverthe- 
less it is distinct from the natural law, especially from that natural 
law which is common to all animals. 

The Replies to the other Objections are evident from what has 
been said. 
•»D.F. Tr.: sanctioned by the Lords. 



QUESTION 96 

OF THE POWER OF HUMAN LAW 

{In Six Articles) 

We must now consider the power of human law. Under this head 
there ar? six points of inquiry: (i) Whether human law should 
be framed for the community? (2) Whether human law should 
repress all vices? (3) Whether human law is competent to direct 
all acts of virtue? (4) Whether it binds man in conscience? (5) 
Whether all men are subject to human law? (6) Whether those 
who are under the law may act beside the letter of the law? 

FmsT Article 

WHETHER HUMAN LAW SHOULD BE FRAMED FOR THE 
COMMUNITY RATHER THAN FOR THE INDIVIDUAL? 

We proceed thus to the First Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that human law should be framed, 
not for the community, but rather for the individual. For the Philos- 
opher says that "the legal just . . . includes all particular acts of 
legislation . . . and all those matters which are the jubject of 
decrees," ^ which are also individual matters, since decrees are 
framed about individual actions. Therefore law is framed not only 
for the community, but also for the individual. 

Obj. 2. Further, law is the director of human acts, as stated 
above (Q. 90, AA. i, 2). But human acts are about individual 
matters. Therefore human laws should be framed, not for the com- 
munity, but rather for the individual. 

Obj. 3. Further, law is a rule and measure of human acts, as 
stated above (Q. 90, AA. i, 2). But a measure should be most 
certain, as stated in Metaphysics x. Since therefore in human acts 
no general proposition can be so certain as not to fail in some 

65 



66 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

individual cases, it seems that laws should be framed not in gen- 
eral but for individual cases. 

On the contrary, The Jurist says that "laws should be made to 
suit the majority of instances ; and they are not framed according 
to what may possibly happen in an individual case." ^ 

/ answer that, Whatever is for an end should be proportionate to 
that end. Now the end of law is the common good; because, as 
Isidore says, "law should be framed, not for any private bene- 
fit, but for the common good of all the citizens." ' Hence human 
laws should be proportionate to the common good. Now the com- 
mon good comprises many things. Wherefore law should take ac- 
count of many things, as to persons, as to [activities] ,* and as to 
times; because the community of the state is composed of many 
persons and its good is procured by many actions; nor is it estab- 
lished to endure for only a short time, but to last for all time 
by the citizens succeeding one another, as Augustine says.* 

Reply Obj. i. The Philosopher divides the "legal just," i.e., 
positive law, into three parts. For some things are laid down simply 
in a general way: ^ and these are the general laws. Of these he says 
that "the legal is that which originally was a matter of indifference, 
but which, when enacted, is so no longer," as the fixing of the ran- 
som of a captive. — Some things affect the community in one re- 
spect and individuals in another.*' These are called "privileges," 
i.e., "private laws," as it were, because they regard private persons, 
although their power extends to many matters; and in regard to 
these, he adds, "and further [any regulations enacted for particu- 
lar cases."] ^ — Other matters are legal, not through being laws, 
but through being applications of general laws to particular cases, 
such are decrees which have the force of law; and in regard to 
these, he adds "all matters subject to decrees." ° 

Reply Obj. 2. A principle of direction should be applicable to 
many, wherefore the Philosopher says that all things belonging to 

«D.F.Tr.: matters. 

^ [I.e., there are measures which are absolutely common (applicable to every- 
body in every way).] 

<= [I.e., some measures are common from one point of view and private from 
another.] 
dD.F. Tr.: all particular acts of legislation. 



OF THE POWER OF HUMAN LAW 67 

one genus are measured by one which is the [first] ^ in that genus.® 
For if there were as many rules or measures as there are things 
measured or ruled, they would cease to be of use, since their use 
consists in being applicable to many things. Hence law would be 
of no use if it did not extend further than to one single act. Because 
the decrees of prudent men are made for the purpose of directing 
individual actions, whereas law is a general precept, as stated 
above (Q. 92, A. 2, Obj. 2). 

Reply Obj. 3. "We must not seek the same degree of certainty 
in all things." "^ Consequently in contingent matters, such as 
natural and human things, it is enough for a thing to be certain, 
as being true in the greater number of instances, though at times 
and less frequently it fail. 



Second Article 

WHETHER IT BELONGS TO HUMAN LAW TO REPRESS 
ALL VICES? 

We proceed thus to the Second Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that it belongs to human law to 
repress all vices. For Isidore says that "laws were made in order 
that, in fear thereof, man's audacity might be held in check." * 
But it would not be held in check sufficiently unless all evils were 
repressed by law. Therefore human law should repress all evils. 

Obj. 2. Further, the intention of the lawgiver is to make the 
citizens virtuous. But a man cannot be virtuous unless he forbear 
from all kinds of vice. Therefore it belongs to human law to repress 
all vices. 

Obj. 3. Further, human law is derived from the natural law, as 
stated above (Q. 95, A. 2). But all vices are contrary to the law 
of nature. Therefore human law should repress all vices. 

On the contrary, We read in De libero arbitrio i. 5: "It seems 
to me that the law which is written for the governing of the people 
rightly permits these things, and that divine providence punishes 
them." But divine providence punishes nothing but vices. There- 
eD.F. Tr.: principle. 



68 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

fore human law rightly allows some vices, by not repressing them, 

/ answer that, As stated above (Q. 90, AA, i, 2), law is framed 
as a rule or measure of human acts. Now a measure should be 
homogeneous with that which it measures, as stated in Metaphysics 
X. text. 3, 4, since different things are measured by different meas- 
ures. Wherefore laws imposed on men should also be in keeping 
with their condition, for, as Isidore says,* law should be "possible 
both according to nature, and according to the customs of the 
country." ' Now possibility or faculty of action is due to an in- 
terior habit or disposition, since the same thing is not possible to 
one who has not a virtuous habit as is possible to one who has. 
Thus the same is not possible to a child as to a full-grown man; 
for which reason the law for children is not the same as for adults, 
since many things are permitted to children which in an adult are 
punished by law or at any rate are open to blame. In like manner 
many things are permissible to men not perfect in virtue which 
would be intolerable in a virtuous man. 

Now human law is framed for a number of human beings, the 
majority of whom are not perfect in virtue. Wherefore human laws 
do not forbid all vices from which the virtuous abstain, but only 
the more grievous vices from which it is possible for the majority 
to abstain; and chiefly those that are to the hurt of others, with- 
out the prohibition of which human society could not be main- 
tained: thus human law prohibits murder, theft, and suchlike. 

Reply Obj. i. Audacity seems to refer to the assailing of others. 
Consequently it belongs to those sins chiefly whereby one's neigh- 
bor is injured; and these sins are forbidden by human law, as 
stated. 

Reply Obj. 2. The purpose of human law is to lead men to 
virtue, not suddenly, but gradually. Wherefore it does not lay 
upon the multitude of imperfect men the burdens of those who are 
already virtuous, viz., that they should abstain from all evil. 
Otherwise these imperfect ones, being unable to bear such precepts, 
would break out into yet greater evils; thus it is written: "He 
that violently bloweth his nose, bringeth out blood"; ^^ and that 
if "new wine," i.e., precepts of a perfect life, is "put into old 
' [Cf. Note d on page 61.] 



OF THE POWER OF HUMAN LAW 69 

bottles," i.e., into imperfect men, "the bottles break, and the wine 
runneth out," i.e., the precepts are despised and those men, from 
contempt, break out into evils worse still.^^ 

Reply Obj. 3. The natural law is a participation in us of the 
eternal law, while human law falls short of the eternal law. Now 
Augustine says: "The law which is framed for the government of 
states allows and leaves unpunished many things that are punished 
by divine providence. Nor, if this law does not attempt to do every- 
thing, is this a reason why it should be blamed for what it does." ^^ 
Wherefore, too, human law does not prohibit everything that is 
forbidden by the natural law. 



Third Article 

WHETHER HUMAN LAW PRESCRIBES ACTS OF ALL THE 

VIRTUES? 

We proceed thus to the Third Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that human law does not prescribe 
acts of all the virtues. For vicious acts are contrary to acts of 
virtue. But human law does not prohibit all vices, as stated above 
(A. 2 ) . Therefore neither does it prescribe all acts of virtue, 

Obj. 2. Further, a virtuous act proceeds from a virtue. But vir- 
tue is the end of law, so that whatever is from a virtue cannot 
come under a precept of law. Therefore human law does not pre- 
scribe all acts of virtue. 

Obj. 3. Further, law is ordained to the common good, as stated 
above (Q. 90, A. 2). But some acts of virtue are ordained, not to 
the common good, but to private good. Therefore the law does 
not prescribe all acts of virtue. 

On the contrary, The Philosopher says that the law "prescribes 
the performance of the acts of a brave man . . . and the acts of 
the temperate man , . . and the acts of the meek man; and in like 
manner as regards the other virtues and vices, prescribing the 
former, forbidding the latter." ^* 

/ answer that, The species of virtues are distinguished by their 
objects, as explained above .^* Now all the objects of virtues can 



70 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-II 

be referred either to the private good of an individual or to the 
common good of the multitude: thus matters of fortitude may be 
achieved either for the safety of the state or for upholding the 
rights of a friend, and in like manner with the other virtues. But 
law, as stated above (Q. 90, A. 2), is ordained to the common 
good. Wherefore there is no virtue whose acts cannot be prescribed 
by the law. Nevertheless human law does not prescribe concerning 
all the acts of every virtue, but only in regard to those that are 
ordainable to the common good — either immediately, as when cer- 
tain things are done directly for the common good, or mediately, 
as when a lawgiver prescribes certain things pertaining to [proper 
instruction] ^ whereby the citizens are directed in the upholding of 
the common good of justice and peace. 

Reply Obj. i . Human law does not forbid all vicious acts by the 
obligation of a precept, as neither does it prescribe all acts of vir- 
tue. But it forbids certain acts of each vice, just as it prescribes 
some acts of each virtue. 

Reply Obj. 2 . An act is said to be an act of virtue in two ways. 
First, from the fact that a man does something virtuous ; thus the 
act of justice is to do what is right, and an act of fortitude is to 
do brave things — and in this way law prescribes certain acts of 
virtue. Secondly, an act of virtue is when a man does a virtuous 
thing in a way in which a virtuous man does it. Such an act always 
proceeds from virtue, and it does not come under a precept of law, 
but is the end at which every lawgiver aims. 

Reply Obj. 3 . There is no virtue whose act is not ordainable to 
the common good, as stated above, either mediately or immediately. 



Fourth Article 
WHETHER HUMAN LAW BINDS A MAN IN CONSCIENCE? 

We proceed thus to the Fourth Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that human law does not bind a 
man in conscience. For an inferior power has no jurisdiction in a 
court of higher power. But the power of man which frames human 
eD.F. Tr.: good order. 



OF THE POWER OF HUMAN LAW 7 1 

law is beneath the divine power. Therefore human law cannot im- 
pose its precept in a divine court, such as is the court of conscience. 

Obj. 2. Further, the judgment of conscience depends chiefly on 
the commandments of God. But sometimes God's commandments 
are made void by human laws, according to Matthew xv. 6: "You 
have made void the commandment of God for your tradition." 
Therefore human law does not bind a man in conscience. 

Obj. 3. Further, human laws often bring loss of character and 
injury on man, according to Isaias x. i ff.: "Woe to them that 
make wicked laws, and when they write, write injustice; to oppress 
the poor in judgment, and do violence to the cause of the humble 
of My people." But it is lawful for anyone to avoid oppression 
and violence. Therefore human laws do not bind man in conscience. 

On the contrary, It is written: "This is thanksworthy, if for 
conscience ... a man endure sorrows, suffering wrongfully." ^^ 

/ answer that, Laws framed by man are either just or unjust. If 
they be just, they have the power of binding in conscience, from 
the eternal law whence they are derived, according to Proverbs 
viii. 15: "By Me kings reign, and lawgivers decree just things." 
Now laws are said to be just — from the end, when, to wit, they are 
ordained to the common good — and from their author, that is to 
say, when the law that is made does not exceed the power of the 
lawgiver — and from their form, when, to wit, burdens are laid on 
the subjects, according to an equality of proportion and with a 
view to the common good. For, since one man is a part of the com- 
munity, each man, in all that he is and has, belongs to the com- 
munity, just as a part, in all that it is, belongs to the whole; 
wherefore nature inflicts a loss on the part in order to save the 
whole, so that on this account such laws as these which impose 
proportionate burdens are just and binding in conscience and are 
legal laws.'* 

On the other hand, laws may be unjust in two ways: first, by 
being contrary to human good, through being opposed to the things 
mentioned above — either in respect of the end, as when an author- 
ity imposes on his subjects burdensome laws, conducive, not to 
the common good, but rather to his own cupidity or vainglory; or 
•* [See Glossary under legal. '[ 



72 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-II 

in respect of the author, as when a man makes a law that goes be- 
yond the power committed to him; or in respect of the form, as 
when burdens are imposed unequally on the community, although 
with a view to the common good. The like are acts of violence 
rather than laws, because, as Augustine says, "A law that is not 
just, seems to be no law at all." ^^ Wherefore such laws do not 
bind in conscience, except perhaps in order to avoid scandal or 
disturbance, for which cause a man should even yield his right, 
according to Matthew v. 40, 41: "If a man . . . take away thy 
coat, let go thy cloak also unto him; and whosoever will force thee 
one mile, go with him other two." 

Secondly, laws may be unjust through being opposed to the 
divine good: such are the laws of tyrants inducing to idolatry or 
to anything else contrary to the divine law; and laws of this kind 
must nowise be observed because, as stated in Acts v. 29, "we 
ought to obey God rather than men." 

Reply Obj. i. As the Apostle says, all human power is from 
God . . . "therefore he that resisteth the power" in matters that 
are within its scope "resisteth the ordinance of God"; so that he 
becomes guilty according to his conscience.^'^ 

Reply Obj. 2. This argument is true of laws that are contrary 
to the commandments of God, which is beyond the scope of 
(human) power. Wherefore in such matters human law should not 
be obeyed. 

Reply Ob}. 3. This argument is true of a law that inflicts unjust 
hurt on its subjects. The power that man holds from God does not 
extend to this, wherefore neither in such matters is man bound 
to obey the law, provided he avoid giving scandal or inflicting a 
more grievous hurt. 



Fifth Article 

WHETHER ALL ARE SUBJECT TO THE LAW? 

We proceed thus to the Fifth Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that not all are subject to the law. 
For those alone are subject to a law for whom a law is made. But 



OF THE POWER OF HUMAN LAW 73 

the Apostle says: "The law is not made for the just man." ^^ 
Therefore the just are not subject to the law. 

Obj. 2. Further, Pope Urban says: "He that is guided by a 
private law need not for any reason be bound by the public law." ^® 
Now all spiritual men are led by the private law of the Holy Ghost, 
for they are the sons of God, of whom it is said: "Whosoever are 
led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." ^® Therefore 
not all men are subject to human law. 

Obj. 3. Further, the Jurist says that "the sovereign is exempt 
from the laws." ^^ But he that is exempt from the law is not bound 
thereby. Therefore not all are subject to the law. 

On the contrary, The Apostle says: "Let every soul be subject 
to the higher powers." ^^ But subjection to a power seems to imply 
subjection to the laws framed by that power. Therefore all men 
should be subject to human law. 

/ answer that, As stated above (Q. 90, AA. 1,2; A. 3 erf 2), the 
notion of law contains two things: first, that it is a rule of human 
acts; secondly, that it has coercive power. Wherefore a man may 
be subject to law in two ways. First, as the regulated is subject to 
the regulator; and, in this way, whoever is subject to a power is 
subject to the law framed by that power. But it may happen in 
two ways that one is not subject to a power. In one way, by being 
altogether free from its authority; hence the subjects of one city or 
kingdom are not bound by the laws of the sovereign of another 
city or kingdom, since they are not subject to his authority. In 
another way, by being under a yet higher law; thus the subject 
of a proconsul should be ruled by his command, but not in those 
matters in which the subject receives his orders from the emperor, 
for in these matters he is not bound by the mandate of the lower 
authority, since he is directed by that of a higher. In this way 
one who is simply subject to a law may not be subject thereto 
in certain matters in respect of which he is ruled by a higher law. 

Secondly, a man is said to be subject to a law as the coerced 
is subject to the coercer. In this way the virtuous and righteous 
are not subject to the law, but only the wicked. Because coercion 
and violence are contrary to the will, but the will of the good is 
in harmony with the law, whereas the will of the wicked is dis- 



74 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

cordant from it. Wherefore in this sense the good are not subject 
to the law, but only the wicked. 

Reply Obj. i. This argument is true of subjection by way of 
coercion, for, in this way, "the law is not made for the just men: 
because they are a law to themselves," since they "show the work 
of the law written in their hearts," as the Apostle says.^^ Conse- 
quently the law does not enforce itself upon them as it does on 
the wicked. 

Reply Obj. 2. The law of the Holy Ghost is above all law 
framed by man; and therefore spiritual men, in so far as they are 
led by the law of the Holy Ghost, are not subject to the law in 
those matters that are inconsistent with the guidance of the Holy 
Ghost. Nevertheless the very fact that spiritual men are subject 
to law is due to the leading of the Holy Ghost, according to i 
Peter ii. 13: "Be ye subject ... to every human creature for 
God's sake." 

Reply Obj. 3. The sovereign is said to be "exempt from the law," 
as to its coercive power, since, properly speaking, no man is co- 
erced by himself, and law has no coercive power save from the 
authority of the sovereign. Thus then is the sovereign said to be 
exempt from the law, because none is competent to pass sentence 
on him if he acts against the law. Wherefore on Psalm L. 6: "To 
Thee only have I sinned," a gloss says that "there is no man who 
can judge the deeds of a king." — But as to the directive force of 
law, the sovereign is subject to the law by his own will, according 
to the statement that "whatever law a man makes for another, he 
should keep himself." ^^ And a wise authority says: "Obey the 
law that thou makest thyself." ^^ Moreover the Lord reproaches 
those who "say and do not"; and who "bind heavy burdens and 
lay them on men's shoulders, but with a finger of their own they 
will not move them." ^® Hence, in the judgment of God, the sov- 
ereign is not exempt from the law as to its directive force, but he 
should fulfill it of his own free will and not of constraint. — Again 
the sovereign is above the law in so far as, when it is expedient, 
he can change the law and dispense in it according to time and 
place. 



of the power of human law 75 

Sixth Article 

WHETHER HE WHO IS UNDER A LAW MAY ACT BESIDE 
THE LETTER OF THE LAW? 

We proceed thus to the Sixth Article: 

Objection i. It seems that he who is subject to a law may not 
act beside the letter of the law. For Augustine says: "Although 
men judge about temporal laws when they make them, yet when 
once they are made they must pass judgment not on them, but 
according to them." ^"^ But if anyone disregard the letter of the 
law, saying that he observes the intention of the lawgiver, he 
seems to pass judgment on the law. Therefore it is not right for 
one who is under a law to disregard the letter of the law in order 
to observe the intention of the lawgiver. 

Obj. 2. Further, he alone is competent to interpret the law who 
can make the law. But those who are subject to the law cannot 
make the law. Therefore they have no right to interpret the in- 
tention of the lawgiver, but should always act according to the 
letter of the law. 

Obj. 3. Further, every wise man knows how to explain his in- 
tention by words. But those who framed the laws should be reck- 
oned wise, for Wisdom says: "By Me kings reign, and lawgivers 
decree just things." ^^ Therefore we should not judge of the in- 
tention of the lawgiver otherwise than by the words of the law. 

On the contrary, Hilary says: "The meaning of what is said is 
according to the motive for saying it, because things are not sub- 
ject to speech, but speech to things." ^ Therefore we should take 
account of the motive of the lawgiver rather than to his very 
words. 

/ answer that, As stated above (A. 4), every law is directed 
to the common weal of men and derives the force and nature of 
law accordingly [but in so far as it falls short, it possesses no 
binding power]. Hence the Jurist says: "By no reason of law or 
favor of equity is it allowable for us to interpret harshly and ren- 
der burdensome those useful measures which have been enacted 
for the welfare of man." ^^ Now it happens often that the ob- 



76 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-Il 

servance of some point of law conduces to the common weal in 
the majority of instances, and yet, in some cases, is very hurtful. 
Since, then, the lawgiver cannot have in view every single case, 
he shapes the law according to what happens most frequently, by 
directing his attention to the common good. Wherefore, if a case 
arise wherein the observance of that law would be hurtful to the 
general welfare, it should not be observed. For instance, suppose 
that in a besieged city it be an established law that the gates of 
the city are to be kept closed, this is good for public welfare as a 
general rule, but if it were to happen that the enemy are in pur- 
suit of certain citizens who are defenders of the city, it would be 
a great loss to the city if the gates were not opened to them; and 
so in that case the gates ought to be opened, contrary to the let- 
ter of the law, in order to maintain the common weal, which the 
lawgiver had in view. 

Nevertheless it must be noted that if the observance of the law 
according to the letter does not involve any sudden risk needing 
instant remedy, it is not competent for everyone to expound what 
is useful and what is not useful to the state; those alone can do 
this who are in authority and who, on account of suchlike cases, 
have the power to dispense from the laws. If, however, the peril 
be so sudden as not to allow of the delay involved by referring 
the matter to authority, the mere necessity brings with it a dis- 
pensation, since necessity knows no law. 

Reply Obj. i . He who in a case of necessity acts beside the let- 
ter of the law does not judge of the law, but of a particular case 
in which he sees that the letter of the law is not to be observed. 

Reply Obj. 2. He who follows the intention of the lawgiver 
does not interpret the law [as a general rule, except] * in a case 
in which it is evident, by reason of the manifest harm, that the 
lawgiver intended otherwise. For if it be a matter of doubt, he 
must either act according to the letter of the law or consult those 
in power. 

Reply Obj. 3. No man is so wise as to be able to take account 
of every single case, wherefore he is not able sufficiently to ex- 
press in words all those things that are suitable for the end he has 
ID J. Tr.: simply, but. 



OF THE POWER OF HUMAN LAW 77 

in view. And even if a lawgiver were able to take all the cases into 
consideration, he ought not to mention them all in order to avoid 
confusion, but should frame the law according to that which is of 
most common occurrence. 



QUESTION 97 

OF CHANGE IN LAWS 

(In Four Articles) 

We must now consider change in laws, under which head there 
are four points of inquiry: (i) Whether human law is change- 
able? (2) Whether it should always be changed whenever some- 
thing better occurs? (3) Whether it is abolished by custom, and 
whether custom obtains the force of law? (4) Whether the ap- 
plication of human law should be changed by dispensation of 
those in authority? 

First Article 

WHETHER HUMAN LAW SHOULD BE CHANGED IN ANY 

WAY? 

We proceed thus to the First Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that human law should not be 
changed in any way at all. Because human law is derived from 
the natural law, as stated above (Q. 95, A. 2), But the natural 
law endures unchangeably. Therefore human law should also re- 
main without any change. 

Obj. 2. Further, as the Philosopher says, a measure should be 
absolutely stable.^ But human law is the measure of human acts, 
as stated above (Q. 90, AA. i, 2). Therefore it should remain 
without change. 

Obj. 3 . Further, it is of the essence of law to be just and right, 
as fStated above (Q. 95, A. 2). But that which is right once is 
right always. Therefore that which is law once should be always 
law. 

On the contrary, Augustine says: "A temporal law, however 
just, may be justly changed in course of time." ^ 

78 



OF CHANGE IN LAWS 79 

/ answer that, As stated above (Q. 92, A. 3), human law is a 
dictate of reason whereby human acts are directed. Thus there 
may be two causes for the just change of human law: one on the 
part of reason, the other on the part of man whose acts are regu- 
lated by law. The cause on the part of reason is that it seems nat- 
ural to human reason to advance gradually from the imperfect to 
the perfect. Hence, in speculative sciences, we see that the teach- 
ing of the early philosophers was imperfect, and that it was after- 
ward perfected by those who succeeded them. So also in practical 
matters; for those who first endeavored to discover something 
useful for the human community, not being able by themselves 
to take everything into consideration, set up certain institutions 
which were deficient in many ways, and these were changed by 
subsequent lawgivers who made institutions that might prove less 
frequently deficient in respect of the common weal. 

On the part of man whose acts are regulated by law the law 
can be rightly changed on account of the changed condition of 
man, to whom different things are expedient according to the dif- 
ference of his condition. An example is proposed by Augustine: 
"If the people have a sense of moderation and responsibility and 
are most careful guardians of the common weal, it is right to en- 
act a law allowing such a people to choose their own magistrates 
for the government of the commonwealth. But if, as time goes 
on, the same people become so corrupt as to sell their votes and 
entrust the government to scoundrels and criminals, then the right 
of appointing their public officials is rightly forfeit to such a peo- 
ple, and the choice devolves to a few good men." ^ 

Reply Ob), i. The natural law is a participation of the eternal 
law, as stated above (Q. 91, A. 2), and therefore endures with- 
out change, owing to the unchangeableness and perfection of the 
divine reason, the Author of nature. But the reason of man is 
changeable and imperfect, wherefore his law is subject to change. — 
Moreover the natural law contains certain universal precepts 
which are everlasting, whereas human law contains certain par- 
ticular precepts, according to various emergencies. 

Reply Ob}. 2. A measure should be as enduring as possible. 
But nothing can be absolutely unchangeable in things that are 



80 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-II 

subject to change. And therefore human law cannot be altogether 
unchangeable. 

Reply Obj. 3. [In material things, straight (right)]* is predi- 
cated absolutely and therefore, as far as itself is concerned, always 
remains right. But right is predicated of law with reference to the 
common weal, to which one and the same thing is not always 
adapted, as stated above; wherefore rectitude of this kind is sub- 
ject to change. 



Second Article 

WHETHER HUMAN LAW SHOULD ALWAYS BE CHANGED 
WHENEVER SOMETHING BETTER OCCURS? 

We proceed thus to the Second Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that human law should be changed 
whenever something better occurs. Because human laws are de- 
vised by human reason, like other arts. But in the other arts, the 
tenets of former times give place to others if something better oc- 
curs. Therefore the same should apply to human laws. 

Obj. 2. Further, by taking note of the past we can provide for 
the future. Now unless human laws had been changed when it was 
found possible to improve them, considerable inconvenience would 
have ensued because the laws of old were crude in many points. 
Therefore it seems that laws should be changed whenever any- 
thing better occurs to be enacted. 

Obj. 3. Further, human laws are enacted about single acts of 
man. But we cannot acquire perfect knowledge in singular matters 
except by experience, which "requires time," as stated in Ethics 
ii. Therefore it seems that as time goes on it is possible for some- 
thing better to occur for legislation. 

On the contrary, It is stated in the Decretals: "It is absurd and 
a detestable shame that we should suffer those traditions to be 
changed which we have received from the fathers of old." "* 

/ answer that, As stated above (A. i), human law is rightly 
changed in so far as such change is conducive to the common 
* D.F. Tr.: In corporal things, right. 



OF CHANGE IN LAWS 8 1 

weal. But, to a certain extent, the mere change of law is of itself 
prejudicial to the common good because custom avails much for 
the observance of laws, seeing that what is done contrary to gen- 
eral custom, even in slight matters, is looked upon as grave. Con- 
sequently, when a law is changed, the binding power of the law 
is diminished in so far as custom is abolished. Wherefore human 
law should never be changed unless, in some way or other, the 
common weal be compensated according to the extent of the harm 
done in this respect. Such compensation may arise either from 
some very great and very evident benefit conferred by the new 
enactment or from the extreme urgency of the case, due to the 
fact that either the existing law is clearly unjust or its observance 
extremely harmful. Wherefore the Jurist says that "in establish- 
ing new laws, there should be evidence of the benefit to be de- 
rived, before departing from a law which has long been consid- 
ered just." ^ 

Reply Obj. i. Rules of art derive their force from reason alone, 
and therefore, whenever something better occurs, the rule fol- 
lowed hitherto should be changed. But "laws derive very great 
force from custom," as the Philosopher states; ® consequently they 
should not be quickly changed. 

Reply Obj. 2. This argument proves that laws ought to be 
changed, not in view of any improvement, but for the sake of a 
great benefit or in a case of great urgency, as stated above. This 
answer applies also to the Third Objection. 



Third Article 
WHETHER CUSTOM CAN OBTAIN FORCE OF LAW? 

We proceed thus to the Third Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that custom cannot obtain force 
of law, nor abolish a law. Because human law is derived from the 
natural law and from the divine law, as stated above (Q. 9,3, A. 
3; Q. 95, A. 2). But human custom cannot change either the law 
of nature or the divine law. Therefore neither can it change hu- 
man law. 



82 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

Ob). 2. Further, many evils cannot make one good. But he who 
first acted against the law did evil. Therefore by multiplying 
such acts nothing good is the result. Now a law is something good, 
since it is a rule of human acts. Therefore law is not abolished by 
custom, so that the mere custom should obtain force of law. 

Obj. 3. Further, the framing of laws belongs to those public 
men whose business it is to govern the community; wherefore 
private individuals cannot make laws. But custom grows by the 
acts of private individuals. Therefore custom cannot obtain force 
of law, so as to abolish the law. 

On the contrary, Augustine says: "The customs of God's peo- 
ple and the institutions of our ancestors are to be considered as 
laws. And those who throw contempt on the customs of the Church 
ought to be punished as those who disobey the law of God." ' 

/ answer that, All law proceeds from the reason and will of the 
lawgiver: the divine and natural laws from the reasonable will of 
God, the human law from the will of man regulated by reason. 
Now just as human reason and will, in practical matters, may be 
made manifest by speech, so may they be made known by deeds, 
since seemingly a man chooses as good that which he carries into 
execution. But it is evident that by human speech law can be both 
changed and expounded in so far as it manifests the interior move- 
ment and thought of human reason. Wherefore by actions also, 
especially if they be repeated so as to make a custom, law can be 
changed and expounded; and also something can be established 
which obtains force of law in so far as by repeated external ac- 
tions the inward movement of the will and concepts of reason 
are most effectually declared, for when a thing is done again and 
again, it seems to proceed from a deliberate judgment of reason. 
Accordingly custom has the force of law, abolishes law, and is 
the interpreter of law. 

Reply Obj. i. The natural and divine laws proceed from the 
divine will, as stated above. Wherefore they cannot be changed 
by a custom proceeding from the will of man, but only by divine 
authority. Hence it is that no custom can prevail over the divine 
or natural laws, for Isidore says: "Let custom yield to authority; 
evil customs should be eradicated by law and reason." ® 



OF CHANGE EST LAWS 83 

Reply Obj. 2. As stated above (Q. 96, A. 6), human laws fail 
in some cases, wherefore it is possible sometimes to act beside the 
law — namely, in a case where the law fails, yet the act will not 
be evil. And when such cases are multiplied, by reason of some 
change .in man, then custom shows that the law is no longer use- 
ful, just as it might be declared by the verbal promulgation of a 
law to the contrary. If, however, the same reason remains for 
which the law was useful hitherto, then it is not the custom that 
prevails against the law, but the law that overcomes the custom, 
unless perhaps the sole reason for the law seeming useless be that 
it is not "possible according to the custom of the country," ^ 
which has been stated to be one of the conditions of law. For it 
is not easy to set aside the custom of a whole people. 

Reply Obj. 3. The people among whom a custom is introduced 
may be of two conditions. For if they are free and able to make 
their own laws, the consent of the whole people expressed by a 
custom counts far more in favor of a particular observance than 
does the authority of the sovereign, who has not the power to 
frame laws except as representing the people. Wherefore, although 
[a single individual]*^ cannot make laws, yet the whole people 
can. If however the people have not the free power to make their 
own laws or to abolish a law made by a higher authority, never- 
theless with such a people a prevailing custom obtains force of 
law in so far as it is tolerated by those to whom it belongs to 
make laws for that people; because by the very fact that they 
tolerate it they seem to approve of that which is introduced by 
custom. 



Fourth Article 

WHETHER THE RULERS OF THE PEOPLE CAN DISPENSE 
FROM HUMAN LAWS? 

We proceed thus to the Fourth Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that the rulers of the people can- 
not dispense from human laws. For the law is established for the 
^ Cf. I-II, O. 95, A. 3. c D.F. Tr.: each individual. 



84 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

"common weal," as Isidore says.® But the common good should 
not be set aside for the private convenience of an individual, be- 
cause, as the Philosopher says, "the good of the nation is more 
godlike than the good of one man." ^^ Therefore it seems that a 
man should not be dispensed from acting in compliance with the 
general law. 

Obj. 2. Further, those who are placed over others are com- 
manded as follows: "You shall hear the little as well as the great; 
neither shall you respect any man's person, because it is the judg- 
ment of God." ^^ But to allow one man to do that which is equally 
forbidden to all seems to be respect of persons. Therefore the 
rulers of a community cannot grant such dispensations, since this 
is against a precept of the divine law. 

Obj. 3. Further, human law, in order to be just, should accord 
with the natural and divine laws, else it would not foster religion, 
nor be helpful to discipline [which is a requisite of law] ,^ as laid 
down by Isidore.^^ But no man can dispense from the divine and 
natural laws. Neither, therefore, can he dispense from the human 
law. 

On the contrary, The Apostle says: "A dispensation is com- 
mitted to me." ^^ 

/ answer that, Dispensation, properly speaking, denotes a meas- 
uring out to individuals of some common goods: thus the head of 
a household is called a dispenser because to each member of the 
household he distributes work and necessaries of life in due weight 
and measure. Accordingly in every community a man is said to 
dispense, from the very fact that he directs how some general pre- 
cept is to be fulfilled by each individual. Now it happens at times 
that a precept which is conducive to the common weal as a general 
rule is not good for a particular individual or in some particular 
case, either because it would hinder some greater good or because 
it would be the occasion of some evil, as explained above (Q. 96, 
A. 6). But it would be dangerous to leave this to the discretion 
of each individual, except perhaps by reason of an evident and 
sudden emergency, as stated above {ibid.). Consequently he who 
is placed over a community is empowered to dispense in a human 
<* D.F. Tr.: which is requisite to the nature of a law. 



OF CHANGE IN LAWS 85 

law that rests upon his authority, so that, when the law fails in 
its application to persons or circumstances, he may allow the pre- 
cept of the law not to be observed. If however he grant this per- 
mission without any such reason and of his mere will, he will be 
an unfaithful or an imprudent dispenser: unfaithful, if he has not 
the common good in view; imprudent, if he ignores the reasons 
for granting dispensations. Hence our Lord says: "Who, thinkest 
thou, is the faithful and wise dispenser,* whom his lord setteth 
over his family?" ^* 

Reply Obj. i. When a person is dispensed from observing the 
general law, this should not be done to the prejudice of, but with 
the intention of benefiting, the common good. 

Reply Obj. 2. It is not "respect of persons" if unequal measures 
are served out to those who are themselves unequal. Wherefore 
when the condition of any person requires that he should reason- 
ably receive special treatment, it is not "respect of persons" if he 
be the object of special favor. 

Reply Obj. 3. Natural law, so far as it contains general pre- 
cepts, which never fail, does not allow of dispensation. In the 
other precepts, however, which are as conclusions of the general 
precepts, man sometimes grants a dispensation: for instance, that 
a loan should not be paid back to the betrayer of his country, or 
something similar. But to the divine law each man stands as a 
private person to the public law to which he is subject. Where- 
fore just as none can dispense from public human law, except the 
man from whom the law derives its authority, or his delegate, so, 
in the precepts of the divine law, which are from God, none can 
dispense but God or the man to whom He may give special power 
for that purpose. 
« Douay: steward. 



QUESTION 105 •* 
OF THE REASON FOR THE JUDICIAL PRECEPTS 

First Article 

WHETHER THE OLD LAW ENJOINED FITTING PRECEPTS 
CONCERNING RULERS? 

We proceed thus to the First Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that the Old Law made unfitting 
precepts concerning rulers. Because, as the Philosopher says, "the 
ordering of the people depends mostly on the chief ruler." ^ But 
the Law contains no precept relating to the institution of the chief 
ruler, and yet we find therein prescriptions concerning the inferior 
rulers; firstly: "Provide out of all the people wise ^ men," ^ etc.; 
again: "Gather unto Me seventy men of the ancients of Israel"; ^ 
and again: "Let Me have from among you wise and understand- 
ing men," ^ etc. Therefore the Law provided insufficiently in re- 
gard to the rulers of the people. 

Obj. 2 . Further, "The best gives of the best," as Plato states ^ 
(Timaeus ii). Now the best ordering of a state or of any nation 
is to be ruled by a king, because this kind of government ap- 
proaches nearest in resemblance to the divine government, whereby 
God rules the world from the beginning. Therefore the Law should 
have set a king over the people, and they should not have been 
allowed a choice in the matter, as indeed they were allowed: 
"When thou . . . shalt say: I will set a king over me . . . thou 
shalt set him," ^ etc. 

Obj. 3. Further, according to Matthew xii. 25: "Every king- 
dom divided against itself shall be made desolate" — a saying 
which was verified in the Jewish people, whose destruction was 

* [Q. 105 consists of four articles, of which only the first article is here re- 
printed.] 
bVulg.: able. 

86 



OF JUDICIAL PRECEPTS 87 

brought about by the division of the kingdom. But the Law 
should aim chiefly at things pertaining to the general well-being 
of the people. Therefore it should have forbidden the kingdom 
to be divided under two kings, nor should this have been intro- 
duced even by divine authority, as we read of its being intro- 
duced by the authority of the prophet Ahias the Silonite.'' 

Obj. 4. Further, just as priests are instituted for the benefit of 
the people in things concerning God, as stated in Hebrews v. i, so 
are rulers set up for the benefit of the people in human affairs. But 
certain things were allotted as a means of livelihood for the priests 
and Levites of the Law, such as the tithes and first-fruits, and 
many like things. Therefore, in like manner, certain things should 
have been determined for the livelihood of the rulers of the peo- 
ple, the more that they were forbidden to accept presents, as is 
clearly stated in Exodus xxiii. 8: ''You shall not*^ take bribes, 
which even blind the wise, and pervert the words of the just." 

Obj. 5. Further, as a kingdom is the best form of government, 
so is tyranny the most corrupt. But when the Lord appointed the 
king. He established a tyrannical law, for it is written: "This will 
be the right of the king, that shall reign over you: He will take 
your sons," ^ etc. Therefore the Law made unfitting provision 
with regard to the institution of rulers. 

On the contrary, The people of Israel is commended for the 
beauty of its order: "How beautiful are thy tabernacles, O Jacob, 
and thy tents, O Israel." ^ But the beautiful ordering of a people 
depends on the right establishment of its rulers. Therefore the 
Law made right provision for the people with regard to its rulers. 

/ answer that, Two points are to be observed concerning the 
right ordering of rulers in a state or nation. One is that all should 
take some share in the government, for this form of constitution 
ensures peace among the people, commends itself to all, and is 
most enduring,^ as stated in Politics ii. 6. [The other point is one 
which has to do with the kind of regime, or, in other words, with 
the forms of government. Of these there are indeed several, as the 
Philosopher says,^® but the best ones are two, viz., the kingdom, 

c Vulg.: Neither shalt thou. 

* [I.e., all men love and protect such a regime.] 



88 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

in which one man rules on the strength of his virtue (prudence), 
and aristocracy, that is, the rule of the best, in which few gov- 
ern, again on the strength of their virtue. Accordingly, the best 
form of government is to be found in a city or in a kingdom in 
which one man is placed at the head to rule over all because of 
the pre-eminence of his virtue, and under him a certain number 
of men have governing power also on the strength of their vir- 
tue] ; * and yet a government of this kind is shared by all, both 
because all are eligible to govern and because the rulers are chosen 
by all. For this is the best form of polity, being partly kingdom, 
since there is one at the head of all; partly aristocracy, in so far 
as a number of persons are set in authority; partly democracy, 
i.e., government by the people, in so far as the rulers can be chosen 
from the people and the people have the right to choose their 
rulers. 

Such was the form of government established by the divine 
Law. For Moses and his successors governed the people in such 
a way that each of them was ruler over all, so that there was a 
kind of kingdom. Moreover, seventy-two men were chosen, who 
were elders in virtue; for it is written: "I took out of your tribes 
men wise and honourable, and appointed them rulers," ^^ so that 
there was an element of aristocracy. But it was a democratical 
government in so far as the rulers were chosen from all the peo- 
ple; for it is written: "Provide out of all the people wise ' men," ^^ 
etc.; and, again, in so far as they were chosen by the people; 
wherefore it is written: "Let me have from among you wise*^ 
men," ^^ etc. Consequently it is evident that [the ordering of the 
rulers provided for by the Law was the best.] ^ 

*D.F. Tr.: The other point is to be observed in respect of the kinds of gov- 
ernment, or the different ways in which the constitutions are established. For 
whereas these differ in kind, as the Philosopher states {Politics iii.5), never- 
theless the first place is held by the kingdom, where the power of government 
is vested in one; and aristocracy, which signifies government by the best, 
where the power of government is vested in a few. Accordingly, the best form 
of government is in a state or kingdom, wherein one is given the power to 
preside over all; while under him are others having governing powers. 
' Vulg. : able. « Vulg. : able. 

•» D.F. Tr.: the ordering of the rulers was well provided for by the Law. 



OF JUDICIAL PRECEPTS 89 

Reply Ob), i. This people was governed under the special care 
of God; wherefore it is written: "The Lord thy God hath chosen 
thee to be His peculiar people"; ^^ and this is why the Lord re- 
served to Himself the institution of the chief ruler. For this, too, 
did Moses pray: "May the Lord the God of the spirits of all the 
flesh provide a man, that may be over this multitude." ^^ Thus 
by God's orders Josue was set at the head [to succeed Moses] ; * 
and we read about each of the judges who succeeded Josue that 
God "raised ... up a saviour" for the people and that "the 
spirit of the Lord was" in them.^® Hence the Lord did not leave 
the choice of a king to the people, but reserved this to Himself, as 
appears from Deuteronomy xvii. 15: "Thou shalt set him whom 
the Lord thy God shall choose." 

Reply Ob']. 2 . A kingdom is the best form of government of the 
people, so long as it is not corrupt. But since the power granted 
to a king is so great, it easily degenerates into tyranny unless he 
to whom this power is given be a very virtuous man ; for it is only 
the virtuous man that conducts himself well in the midst of pros- 
perity, as the Philosopher observes.^"^ Now perfect virtue is to 
be found in few; and especially were the Jews inclined to cruelty 
and avarice, which vices above all turn men into tyrants. Hence 
from the very first the Lord did not set up the kingly authority 
with full power, but gave them judges and governors to rule them. 
But afterwards when the people asked Him to do so, being indig- 
nant with them, so to speak, He granted them a king, as is clear 
from His words to Samuel: "They have not rejected thee, but 
Me, that I should not reign over them." ^^ 

Nevertheless, as regards the appointment of a king. He did es- 
tablish the manner of election from the very beginning,^^ and then 
He determined two points: first, that in choosing a king they 
should wait for the Lord's decision, and that they should not make 
a man of another nation king, because such kings are wont to 
take little interest in the people they are set over, and conse- 
quently to "have no care for their welfare. Secondly, He prescribed 
how the king, after his appointment, should behave in regard to 
himself — namely, that he should not accumulate chariots and 
* D.F. Tr.: in place of Moses. 



90 SUMMA THEOLOGICA I-H 

horses, nor wives, nor immense wealth, because through craving 
for such things princes become tyrants and forsake justice. He also 
appointed the manner in which they were to conduct themselves 
toward God — namely, that they should continually read and pon- 
der on God's Law, and should ever fear and obey God. Moreover, 
He decided how they should behave toward their subjects — 
namely, that they should not proudly despise them, or ill-treat 
them, and that they should not depart from the paths of justice. 

Reply Obj. 3. The division of the kingdom and a number of 
kings was rather a punishment inflicted on that people for their 
many dissensions, specially against the just rule of David, than a 
benefit conferred on them for their profit. Hence it is written: "I 
will give thee a king in My wrath"; ^^ and: "They have reigned, 
but not by Me: they have been princes, and I knew not." ^^ 

Reply Obj. 4. The priestly office was bequeathed by succession 
from father to son; and this in order that it might be held in 
greater respect if not any man from the people could become a 
priest, since honor was given to them out of reverence for the 
divine worship. Hence it was necessary to put aside certain things 
for them both as to tithes and as to first-fruits, and, again, as to 
oblations and sacrifices, that they might be afforded a means of 
livelihood. On the other hand, the rulers, as stated above, were 
chosen from the whole people, wherefore they had their own pos- 
sessions from which to derive a living, and so much the more 
since the Lord forbade even a king to have superabundant wealth 
or to make too much show of magnificence; both because he 
could scarcely avoid the excesses of pride and tyranny arising 
from such things and because, if the rulers were not very rich 
and if their office involved much work and anxiety, it would not 
tempt the ambition of the common people and would not become 
an occasion of sedition. 

Reply Obj. 5. That right was not given to the king by divine 
institution, rather was it foretold that kings would usurp that 
right by framing unjust laws and by degenerating into tyrants 
who preyed on their subjects. This is clear from the context that 
follows: "And you shall be his slaves,"^ which is significative of 
i Douay: servants. 



OF JUDICIAL PRECEPTS QI 

tyranny, since a tyrant rules his subjects as though they were his 
slaves. Hence Samuel spoke these words to deter them from ask- 
ing for a king, since the narrative continues: "But the people 
would not hear the voice of Samuel." — It may happen, however, 
that even a good king, without being a tyrant, may take away the 
sons and make them tribunes and centurions, and may take many 
things from his subjects in order to secure the common weal. 



THE SUMMA THEOLOGICA 

[Second Part of the Second Part] 

QUESTION 42 

OF SEDITION 

(In Two Articles) 

We must now consider sedition, under which head there are two 
points of inquiry: (i) Whether it is a special sin? (2) Whether 
it is a mortal sin? 

First Article 

WHETHER SEDITION IS A SPECIAL SIN DISTINCT FROM 
OTHER SINS? 

We proceed thus to the First Article: 

Objection 1. It would seem that sedition is not a special sin dis- 
tinct from other sins. For, according to Isidore, "a seditious man is 
one who sows dissent among minds and begets discord." ^ Now by 
provoking the commission of a sin a man sins by no other kind of 
sin than that which he provoked. Therefore it seems that sedi- 
tion is not a special sin distinct from discord. 

Obj. 2. Further, sedition denotes a kind of division. Now schism 
takes its name from scission, as stated above.^ Therefore, seem- 
ingly, the sin of sedition is not distinct from that of schism. 

Obj. 3. Further, every special sin that is distinct from other sins 
is either a capital vice or arises from some capital vice. Now sedi- 
tion is reckoned neither among the capital vices nor among those 
vices which arise from them, as appears from Moralium xxxi. 45, 

92 



OP SEDITION 93 

where both kinds of vice are enumerated. Therefore sedition is not 
a special sin, distinct from other sins. 

On the contrary, Seditions are mentioned as distinct from other 
sins.* 

/ answer that, Sedition is a special sin, having something in 
common with war and strife and differing somewhat from them. 
It has something in common with them in so far as it implies a 
certain antagonism, and it differs from them in two points. First, 
because war and strife denote actual aggression on either side, 
whereas sedition may be said to denote either actual aggression or 
the preparation for such aggression. Hence a gloss on n Corin- 
thians xii. 20 says that "seditions are tumults tending to fight," 
when, to wit, a number of people make preparations with the in- 
tention of fighting. Secondly, they differ in that war is, properly 
speaking, carried on against external foes, being as it were between 
one people and another; whereas strife is between one individual 
and another or between few people on one side and few on the 
other, while sedition, in its proper sense, is between the mutually 
dissentient parts of one people, as when one part of the state rises 
in tumult against another part. Wherefore since sedition is opposed 
to a special kind of good, namely, the unity and peace of a people, 
it is a special kind of sin. 

Reply Ob}, i . A seditious man is one who incites others to sedi- 
tion, and since sedition denotes a kind of discord it follows that 
a seditious man is one who creates discord, not of any kind, but 
between the parts of a multitude. And the sin of sedition is not 
only in him who sows discord, but also in those who dissent from 
one another inordinately. 

Reply Obj. 2. Sedition differs from schism in two respects. First, 
because schism is opposed to the spiritual unity of the multitude, 
viz., ecclesiastical unity, whereas sedition is contrary to the tem- 
poral or secular unity of the multitude, for instance, of a city or 
kingdom. Secondly, schism does not imply any preparation for a 
material fight as sedition does, but only a spiritual dissent. 

Reply Obj. 3. Sedition, like schism, is contained under discord 
since each is a kind of discord, not between individuals, but be- 
tween the parts of a multitude. 



94 sx7mma theologica ii-h 

Second Article 
WHETHER SEDITION IS ALWAYS A MORTAL SIN? 

We proceed thus to the Second Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that sedition is not always a mortal 
sin. For sedition denotes "a tumult tending to fight, according to 
the gloss quoted above (A. i). But fighting is not always a mortal 
sin; indeed it is sometimes just and lawful, as stated above.* Much 
more, therefore, can sedition be without a mortal sin. 

Obj. 2. Further, sedition is a kind of discord, as stated above 
(A. I ad s). Now discord can be without mortal sin, and some- 
times without any sin at all. Therefore sedition can be also. 

Obj. 3. Further, it is praiseworthy to deliver a multitude from 
a tyrannical rule. Yet this cannot easily be done without some dis- 
sension in the multitude, if one part of the multitude seeks to 
retain the tyrant while the rest strive to dethrone him. Therefore 
there can be sedition without mortal sin. 

On the contrary, The Apostle forbids seditions together with 
other things that are mortal sins.*^ 

/ answer that, As stated above (A. i ad 2), sedition is contrary 
to the unity of the multitude, viz., the people of a city or kingdom. 
Now Augustine says that "wise men understand the word people 
to designate not any crowd of persons, but the assembly of those 
who are united together in fellowship recognized by law and for 
the common good." * Wherefore it is evident that the unity to 
which sedition is opposed is the unity of law and common good; 
whence it follows manifestly that sedition is opposed to justice and 
the common good. Therefore by reason of its genus it is a mortal 
sin, and its gravity will be all the greater according as the common 
good which it assails surpasses the private good which is assailed 
by strife. 

Accordingly the sin of sedition is first and chiefly in its authors, 
who sin most grievously; and secondly, it is in those who are led 
by them to disturb the common good. Those, however, who de- 
fend the cormnon good and withstand the seditious party are not 



OF SEDITION 95 

themselves seditious, even as neither is a man to be called quarrel- 
some because he defends himself, as stated aboveJ 

Reply Obj. i. It is lawful to fight, provided it be for the com- 
mon good, as stated above.® But sedition runs counter to the 
common good of the multitude, so that it is always a mortal sin. 

Reply Obj. 2. Discord from what is not evidently good may be 
without sin, but discord from what is evidently good cannot 
be without sin; and sedition is discord of this kind, for it is con- 
trary to the unity of the multitude, which is a manifest good. 

Reply Obj. 3. A tyrannical government is not just, because it is 
directed not to the common good, but to the private good of the 
ruler, as the Philosopher states.® Consequently there is no sedition 
in disturbing a government of this kind, unless indeed the tyrant's 
rule be disturbed so inordinately that his subjects suffer greater 
harm from the consequent disturbance than from the tyrant's gov- 
ernment. Indeed it is the tyrant rather that is guilty of sedition, 
since he encourages discord and sedition among his subjects that 
he may lord over them more securely; for this is tyranny, being 
conducive to the private good of the ruler and to the injury of the 
multitude. 



QUESTION 57 

OF RIGHT 

(In Four Articles) 

After considering prudence we must in due sequence consider 
justice, the consideration of which will be fourfold: (i) of jus- 
tice, (2) of it parts, (3) of the corresponding gift, (4) of the pre- 
cepts relating to justice. 

Four points will have to be considered about justice: (i) right; 
(2) justice itself; (3) injustice; (4) judgment. 

Under the first head there are four points of inquiry: (i) 
Whether right is the object of justice? (2) Whether right is fit- 
tingly divided into natural and positive right? (3) Whether the 
right of nations is the same as natural right? (4) Whether right 
of dominion and paternal right are distinct species? 



First Article 
WHETHER RIGHT IS THE OBJECT OF JUSTICE? 

We proceed thus to the First Article: 

Objection 1. It would seem that right is not the object of jus- 
tice. For the jurist Celsus says that "right is the art of goodness 
and equality." ^ Now art is not the object of justice, but is by it- 
self an intellectual virtue. Therefore right is not the object of 
justice. 

Ob']. 2. Further, "Law," according to Isidore, "is a kind of 
right." 2 Now law is the object not of justice but of prudence, 
wherefore the Philosopher reckons "legislative" as one of the parts 
of prudence.^ Therefore right is not the object of justice. 

Obj. 3. Further, justice, before all, subjects man to God; for 
Augustine says that "justice is love serving God alone and conse- 
quently governing aright all things subject to man.-" * Now right 

96 



OF RIGHT 97 

(ius) does not pertain to divine things, but only to human af- 
fairs, for Isidore says that "fas is the divine law, and ius the hu- 
man law." ^ Therefore right is not the object of justice. 

On the contrary, Isidore says that "ius (right) is so called be- 
cause it is just." ® Now the "just" is the object of justice, for the 
Philosopher declares that "all are agreed in giving the name of 
justice to the habit which makes men capable of doing just ac- 
tions." "^ 

I answer that, It is proper to justice, as compared with the 
other virtues, to direct man in his relations with others, because it 
denotes a kind of equality, as its very name implies ; indeed we are 
wont to say that things are adjusted when they are made equal, for 
equality is in reference of one thing to some other. On the other 
hand, the other virtues perfect man in those matters only which 
befit him in relation to himself. Accordingly that which is right 
in the works of the other virtues, and to which the intention of 
the virtue tends as to its proper object, depends on its relation to 
the agent only, whereas the right in a work of justice, besides its 
relation to the agent, is set up by its relation to others. Because 
a man's work is said to be just when it is related to some other 
by way of some kind of equality; for instance, the payment of 
the wage due for a service rendered. And so a thing is said to be 
just, as having the rectitude of justice, when it is the term of an 
act of justice, without taking into account the way in which it is 
done by the agent; whereas in the other virtues nothing is de- 
clared to be right unless it is done in a certain way by the agent. 
For this reason justice has its own special proper object over and 
above the other virtues, and this object is called the "just," which 
is the same as "right." Hence it is evident that right is the object 
of justice. 

Reply Obj. i. It is usual for words to be distorted from their 
original signification so as to mean something else: thus the word 
"medicine" was first employed to signify a remedy used for cur- 
ing a sick person, and then it was drawn to signify the art by 
which this is done. In like manner the word ius (right) was first 
of all used to denote the just thing itself, but afterwards it was 
transferred to designate the art whereby it is known what is just, 



98 SUMMA THEOLOGICA U-U 

and further to denote the place where justice' is administered: 
thus a man is said to appear in jure,^ and yet further, we say even 
that a man who has the office of exercising justice administers the 
ius even if his sentence be unjust. 

Reply Obj. 2. Just as there pre-exists in the mind of the crafts- 
man an expression of the things to be made externally by his 
craft, which expression is called the rule of his craft, so, too, 
there pre-exists in the mind an expression of the particular just 
work which the reason determines, and which is a kind of rule of 
prudence. If this rule be expressed in writing, it is called a "law," 
which, according to Isidore, is "a written decree," ® and so law is 
not the same as right, but an expression of right. 

Reply Obj. 3. Since justice implies equality and since we can- 
not offer God an equal return, it follows that we cannot make 
Him a perfectly just repayment. For this reason the divine law is 
not properly called ius but jas, because, to wit, God is satisfied if 
we accomplish what we can. Nevertheless justice tends to make 
man repay God as much as he can, by subjecting his mind to 
Him entirely. 



Second Article 

WHETHER RIGHT IS FITTINGLY DIVIDED INTO 
NATURAL RIGHT AND POSITIVE RIGHT? 

We proceed thus to the Second Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that right is not fittingly divided 
into natural right and positive right. For that which is natural is 
unchangeable, and is the same for all. Now nothing of the kind 
is to be found in human affairs, since all the rules of human right 
fail in certain cases, nor do they obtain force everywhere. There- 
fore there is no such thing as natural right. 

Obj. 2. Further, a thing is called "positive" when it proceeds 
from the human will. But a thing is not just simply because it 
proceeds from the human will, else a man's will could not be un- 
A [In English we speak of a court of law, a barrister at law, etc.] 



OF RIGHT 99 

just. Since then the "just" and the "right" are the same, it seems 
that there is no positive right. 

Obj. 3. Further, divine right is not natural right, since it tran- 
scends human nature. In like manner, neither is it positive right, 
since it is based not on human but on divine authority. There- 
fore right is unfittingly divided into natural and positive. 

On the contrary, The Philosopher says that "political justice 
is partly natural and partly legal," ® i.e., established by law. 

/ answer that, As stated above (A. i), the "right" or the "just" 
is a work that is adjusted to another person according to some 
kind of equality. Now a thing can be adjusted to a man in two 
ways: first, by its very nature, as when a man gives so much that 
he may receive equal value in return, and this is called "natural 
right." In another way, a thing is adjusted or commensurated to 
another person by agreement or by common consent, when, to 
wit, a man deems himself satisfied if he receives so much. This 
can be done in two ways: first, by private agreement, as that 
which is confirmed by an agreement between private individuals; 
secondly, by public agreement, as when the whole community 
agrees that something should be deemed as though it were ad- 
justed and commensurated to another person, or when this is de- 
creed by the prince who is placed over the people and acts in its 
stead, and this is called "positive right." 

Reply Obj. i . That which is natural to one whose nature is un- 
changeable must needs be such always and everywhiere. But man's 
nature is changeable, wherefore that which is natural to man may 
sometimes fail. Thus the restitution of a deposit to the depositor 
is in accordance with natural equality, and if human nature were 
always right, this would always have to be observed; but since 
it happens sometimes that man's will is unrighteous, there are 
cases in which a deposit should not be restored, lest a man of un- 
righteous will make evil use of the thing deposited: as when a 
madman or an enemy of the common weal demands the return 
of his weapons. 

Reply Obj. 2. The human will can, by common agreement, make 
a thing to be just provided it be not, of itself, contrary to natural 



100 SUMMA THEOLOGICA U-U 

justice, and it is in such matters that positive right has its place, 
Hence the Philosopher says that "in the case of the legal just, it 
does not matter in the first instance whether it takes one form or 
another, it only matters when once it is laid down." ^® If, how- 
ever, a thing is, of itself, contrary to natural right, the human 
^11 cannot make it just, for instance, by decreeing that it is law- 
ful to steal or to commit adultery. Hence it is written: "Woe to 
them that make wicked laws." ^^ 

Reply Obj. 3. The divine right is that which is promulgated by 
God. Such things are partly those that are naturally just, yet their 
justice is hidden to man, and partly are made just by God's de- 
cree. Hence also divine right may be divided in respect of these 
two things, even as human right is. For the divine law commands 
certain things because they are good, and forbids others because 
they are evil, while others are good because they are prescribed, 
and others evil because they are forbidden. 



Third Article 

WHETHER THE RIGHT OF NATIONS IS THE SAME AS 
THE NATURAL RIGHT? 

We proceed thus to the Third Article: 

Objection 1. It would seem that the right of nations is the 
same as the natural right. For all men do not agree save in that 
which is natural to them. Now all men agree in the right of na- 
tions, since the Jurist says that "the right of nations is that which 
is in use among all nations." ^^ Therefore the right of nations is the 
natural right. 

Obj. 2. Further, slavery among men is natural, for some are 
naturally slaves, according to the Philosopher.^^ Now "slavery be- 
longs to the right of nations," as Isidore states.^* Therefore the 
right of nations is a natural right. 

Obj. 3. Further, right, as stated above (A. 2), is divided into 
natural and positive. Now the right of nations is not a positive 
right, since all nations never agreed to decree anything by com- 
mon agreement. Therefore the right of nations is a natural right. 



OF RIGHT lOI 

On the contrary, Isidore says that "right is either natural, or 
civil, or right of nations," ^^ and consequently the right of na- 
tions is distinct from natural right. 

/ answer that, as stated above (A. 2), the natural right or just 
is that which by its very nature is adjusted to or commensurate 
with another person. Now this may happen in two ways: first, 
according as it is considered absolutely; thus a male by his vejy 
nature is commensurate with the female to beget offspring by her, 
and a parent is commensurate with the offspring to nourish it. 
Secondly, a thing is naturally commensurate with another per- 
son, not according as it is considered absolutely, but according to 
something resultant from it, for instance, the possession of prop- 
erty. For if a particular piece of land be considered absolutely, 
it contains no reason why it should belong to one man more than 
to another, but if it be considered in respect of its adaptability 
to cultivation and the unmolested use of the land, it has a cer- 
tain commensuration to be the property of one and not of another 
man, as the Philosopher shows.^* 

Now it belongs not only to man but also to other animals to 
apprehend a thing absolutely; wherefore the right which we call 
natural is common to us and other animals according to the first 
kind of commensuration. But the right of nations falls short of 
natural right in this sense, as the Jurist says, because "the latter 
is common to all animals, while the former is common to men 
only." ^"^ On the other hand, to consider a thing by comparing it 
with what results from it is proper to reason, wherefore this same 
is natural to man in respect of natural reason which dictates it. 
Hence the jurist Gaius says: "Whatever natural reason decrees 
among all men is observed by all equally, and is called the right 
of nations." ^^ This suffices for the Reply to the First Objection. 

Reply Obj. 2. Considered absolutely, the fact that this par- 
ticular man should be a slave rather than another man is based, 
not on natural reason, but on some resultant utility, in that it is 
useful to this man to be ruled by a wiser man, and to the latter 
to be helped by the former, as the Philosopher states.^® Where- 
fore slavery which belongs to the right of nations is natural in 
the second way, but not in the first. 



102 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-II 

Reply Obj. 3. Since natural reason dictates matters which are 
according to the right of nations as implying a proximate equal- 
ity, it follows that they need no special institution, for they are 
instituted by natural reason itself, as stated by the authority 
quoted above. 



Fourth Article 

WHETHER PATERNAL RIGHT AND RIGHT OF 

DOMINION SHOULD BE DISTINGUISHED AS 

SPECIAL SPECIES? 

We proceed thus to the Fourth Article: 

Objection 1. It would seem that "paternal right" and "right 
of dominion" should not be distinguished as special species. For 
it belongs to justice to render to each one what is his, as Am- 
brose states.^® Now right is the object of justice, as stated above 
(A, i). Therefore right belongs to each one equally; and we 
ought not to distinguish the rights of fathers and masters as dis- 
tinct species. 

Obj. 2. Further, the law is an expression of what is just, as 
stated above (A. i ad 2 ) . Now a law looks to the common good 
of a city or kingdom, as stated above (I-II, Q. 90, A. 2), but not 
to the private good of an individual or even of one household. 
Therefore there is no need for a special right of dominion or 
paternal right, since the master and the father pertain to a house- 
hold, as stated in Politics i. 2. 

Obj. 3. Further, there are many other differences of degrees 
among men, for instance some are soldiers, some are priests, some 
are princes. Therefore some special kind of right should be allot- 
ted to them. 

On the contrary, The Philosopher distinguishes right of domin- 
ion, paternal right, and so on, as species distinct from civil right.^^ 

/ answer that, Right or just depends on commensuration with 
another person. Now "another" has a twofold signification. First, 
it may denote something that is other simply, as that which is 
altogether distinct; as, for example, two men neither of whom is 



OF RIGHT 103 

subject to the other and both of whom are subjects of the ruler 
of the state, and between these, according to the Philosopher, there 
is the "just" simply .22 Secondly, a thing is said to be other from 
something else, not simply, but as belonging in some way to that 
something else; and in this way, as regards human affairs, a son 
belongs to his father, since he is part of him somewhat, as stated 
in Ethics viii. 12, and a slave belongs to his master, because he is 
his instrument, as stated in Politics i, 2?^ Hence a father is not 
compared to his son as to another simply, and so between them 
there is not the just simply, but a kind of just called "paternal." 
In like manner neither is there the just simply between master 
and servant, but that which is called "dominative." A wife, 
though she is something belonging to the husband, since she stands 
related to him as to her own body, as the Apostle declares, is 
nevertheless more distinct from her husband than a son from 
his father, or a slave from his master; for she is received into a 
kind of social life, that of matrimony; ^* wherefore, according to 
the Philosopher, there is more scope for justice between husband 
and wife than between father and son, or master and slave,^^ be- 
cause, as husband and wife have an immediate relation to the 
community of the household, as stated in Politics i. 2, 5, it fol- 
lows that between them there is domestic justice rather than civic. 

Reply Ob'}. 1. It belongs to justice to render to each one his 
right, the distinction between individuals being presupposed; for 
if a man gives himself his due, this is not strictly called "just." 
And since what belongs to the son is his father's, and what be- 
longs to the slave is his master's, it follows that, properly speak- 
ing, there is not justice of father to son or of master to slave. 

Reply Obj. 2. A son, as such, belongs to his father, and a slave, 
as such, belongs to his master; yet each, considered as a man, is 
something having separate existence and distinct from others. 
Hence in so far as each of them is a man, there is justice toward 
them in a way; and for this reason, too, there are certain laws 
regulating the relations of a father to his son and of a master to 
his slave; but in so far as each is something belonging to another, 
the perfect idea of "right" or "just" is wanting to them. 

Reply Obj. 3. All other differences between one person and an- 



104 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-II 

other in a state have an immediate relation to the community of 
the state and to its ruler, wherefore there is "just" toward them 
in the perfect sense of justice. This "just" however is distinguished 
according to various offices; hence when we speak of "military," 
or "magisterial," or "priestly" right, it is not as though such rights 
fell short of the simply right, as when we speak of "paternal" 
right, or right of "dominion," but for the reason that something 
proper is due to each class or person in respect of his particular 
office. 



QUESTION 58 
OF JUSTICE 

(In Twelve Articles) 

We must now consider justice. Under this head there are twelve 
points of inquiry: (i) What is justice? (2) Whether justice is 
always toward another? (3) Whether it is a virtue? (4) Whether 
it. is in the will as its subject? (5) Whether it is a general virtue? 
(6) Whether, as a general virtue, it is essentially the same as 
every virtue? (7) Whether there is a particular justice? (8) 
Whether particular justice has a matter of its own? (9) Whether 
it is about passions or about operations only? (10) Whether the 
mean of justice is the real mean? (11) Whether the act of justice 
is to render to everyone his own? (12) Whether justice is the chief 
of the moral virtues? 



First Article 

WHETHER JUSTICE IS FITTINGLY DEFINED AS BEING 

THE PERPETUAL AND CONSTANT WILL TO RENDER 

TO EACH ONE HIS RIGHT? 

We proceed thus to the First Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that lawyers have unfittingly de- 
fined justice as being "the perpetual and constant will to render 
to each one his right." ^ For, according to the Philosopher, justice 
is a habit which makes a man "capable of doing what is just, and 
of being just in action and in intention." ^ Now "will" denotes a 
power or also an act. Therefore justice is unfittingly defined as 
being a will. 

Obj. 2. Further, rectitude of the will is not the will; else if the 
will were its own rectitude, it would follow that no will is unright- 

105 



I06 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

eous. Yet, according to Anselm, justice is rectitude.^ Therefore 
justice is not the will. 

Obj. 3. Further, no will is perpetual save God's. If therefore 
justice is a perpetual will, in God alone will there be justice. 

Obj. 4. Further, whatever is perpetual is constant, since it is 
unchangeable. Therefore it is needless, in defining justice, to say 
that it is both "perpetual" and "constant." 

Obj. 5. Further, it belongs to the sovereign to give each one his 
right. Therefore, if justice gives each one his right, it follows that 
it is in none but the sovereign, which is absurd. 

Obj. 6. Further, Augustine says that "justice is love serving 
God alone." ^ Therefore it does not render to each one his right. 

/ answer that, The aforesaid definition of justice is fitting if 
understood >aright. For since every virtue is a habit which is the 
principle of a good act, a virtue must needs be defined by means 
of the good act bearing on the matter proper to that virtue. Now 
the proper matter of justice consists of those things that belong 
to our intercourse with other men, as shall be shown further on 
(A. 2). Hence the act of justice in relation to its proper matter 
and object is indicated in the words, "Rendering to each one his 
right," since, as Isidore says, "a man is said to be just because 
he respects the rights (ius) of others." '^ 

Now in order that an act bearing upon any matter whatever be 
virtuous, it requires to be voluntary, stable, and firm, because 
the Philosopher says that in order for an act to be virtuous it 
needs first of all to be done "knowingly," secondly to be done "by 
choice" and "for a due end," thirdly to be done "immovably." * 
Now the first of these is included in the second, since "what is 
done through ignorance is involuntary." "^ Hence the definition of 
justice mentions first the "will," in order to show that the act of 
justice must be voluntary; and mention is made afterwards of its 
"constancy" and "perpetuity" in order to indicate the firmness 
of the act. 

Accordingly this is a complete definition of justice, save that 
the act is mentioned instead of the habit which takes its species 
from that act, because habit implies relation to act. And if any- 
one would reduce it to the proper form of a definition, he might 



OF JUSTICE 107 

say that justice is a habit whereby a man renders to each one his 
due by a constant and perpetual will; and this is about the same 
definition as that given by the Philosopher, who says that "justice 
is a habit whereby a man is said to be capable of doing just ac- 
tions in accordance with his choice." ® 

Reply Obj. i: Will here denotes the act, not the power, and it 
is customary among writers to define habits by their acts: thus 
Augustine says that "faith is to believe what one sees not."® 

Reply Obj. 2. Justice is the same as rectitude, not essentially 
but causally; for it is a habit which rectifies the deed and the will. 

Reply Obj. 3. The will may be called perpetual in two ways. 
First, on the part of the will's act which endures forever, and 
thus God's will alone is perpetual. Secondly, on the part of the 
subject, because, to wit, a man wills to do a certain thing always, 
and this is a necessary condition of justice. For it does not satisfy 
the conditions of justice that one wish to observe justice in some 
particular matter for the time being, because one could scarcely 
find a man willing to act unjustly in every case; and it is requisite 
that one should have the will to observe justice at all times and in 
all cases. 

Reply Obj. 4. Since "perpetual" does not imply perpetuity of 
the act of the will, it is not superfluous to add "constant"; for 
while the "perpetual will" denotes the purpose of observing justice 
always, "constant" signifies a firm perseverance in this purpose. 

Reply Obj. 5. A judge renders to each one what belongs to him 
by way of command and direction, because a judge is the "per- 
sonification of justice," and "the sovereign is its guardian." ^^ 
On the other hand, the subjects render to each one what belongs 
to him by way of execution. 

Reply Obj. 6. Just as love of God includes love of our neigh- 
bor, as stated above,^^ so, too, the service of God includes render- 
ing to each one his due. 



i08 summa theologica ii-h 

Second Article 
WHETHER JUSTICE IS ALWAYS TOWARD ANOTHER? 

We proceed thus to the Second Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that justice is not always toward 
another. For the Apostle says that "the justice of God is by faith 
of Jesus Christ." ^^ Now faith does not concern the dealings of 
one man with another. Neither therefore does justice. 

Ob'}. 2. Further, according to Augustine, "it belongs to justice 
that man should direct to the service of God his authority over 
the things that are subject to him." ^^ Now the sensitive appetite 
is subject to man, according to Genesis iv. 7, where it is written: 
"The lust thereof," viz., of sin, "shall be under thee, and thou shalt 
have dominion over it." Therefore it belongs to justice to have do- 
minion over one's own appetite, so that justice is toward oneself. 

Obj. 3. Further, the justice of God is eternal. But nothing else 
is coetemal with God. Therefore justice is not essentially toward 
another. 

Obj. 4. Further, man's dealings with himself need to be recti- 
fied no less than his dealings with another. Now man's dealings 
are rectified by justice; according to Proverbs xi. 5, "The justice 
of the upright shall make his way prosperous." Therefore justice 
is about our dealings not only with others, but also with ourselves. 

On the contrary, Cicero says that "the object of justice is to 
keep men together in society and mutual intercourse." ^* Now 
this implies relationship of one man to another. Therefore justice 
is concerned only about our dealings with others. 

/ answer that, As stated above (Q. 57, A. i), since justice by 
its name implies equality, it denotes essentially relation to an- 
other, for a thing is equal, not to itself, but to another. And for- 
asmuch as it belongs to justice to rectify human acts, as stated 
above (Q. 57, A. i; I-II, Q. 93, A. i), this otherness which jus- 
tice demands must needs be between beings capable of action. 
Now actions belong to supposits * and wholes and, properly speak- 
ing, not to parts and forms or powers, for we do not say prop- 
• [See Glossary.] 



OF JUSTICE 109 

erly that the hand strikes, but a man with his hand, nor that heat 
makes a thing hot, but fire by heat, although such expressions may 
be employed metaphorically. Hence, justice, properly speaking, 
demands a distinction of supposits and consequently is only in one 
man toward another. Nevertheless in one and the same man we may 
speak metaphorically of his various principles of action, such as the 
reason, the irascible, and the concupiscible, as though they were 
so many agents; so that metaphorically in one and the same man 
there is said to be justice in so far as the reason commands the 
irascible and concupiscible and these obey reason, and in general in 
so far as to each part of man is ascribed what is becoming to it. 
Hence the Philosopher calls this "metaphorical justice." ^^ 

Reply Obj. i. The justice which faith works in us is that 
whereby the ungodly is justified; it consists in the due co-ordina- 
tion of the parts of the soul, as stated above (I-II, Q. 93, A. i) 
where we were treating of the justification of the ungodly.^® Now 
this belongs to metaphorical justice, which may be found even in 
a man who lives all by himself. 

This suffices for the Reply to the Second Objection. 

Reply Obj. 3. God's justice is from eternity in respect of the 
eternal will and purpose (and it is chiefly in this that justice con- 
sists), although it is not eternal as regards its effect, since nothing 
is coetemal with God. 

Reply Obj. 4. Man's dealings with himself are sufficiently recti- 
fied by the rectification of the passions by the other moral vir- 
tues. But his dealings with others need a special rectification, not 
only in relation to the agent, but also in relation to the person 
to whom they are directed. Hence about such dealings there is a 
special virtue, and this is justice. 



Third Article 
WHETHER JUSTICE IS A VIRTUE? 

We proceed thus to the Third Article: 

Objection 1 . It would seem that justice is not a virtue. For it is 
written: "When you shall have done all these things that are 



no SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

commanded you, say: 'We are unprofitable servants; we have 
done that which we ought to do.' " ^"^ Now it is not unprofitable 
to do a virtuous deed, for Ambrose says: "We look to a profit 
that is estimated not by pecuniary gain but by the acquisition of 
godliness." ^^ Therefore to do what one ought to do is not a vir- 
tuous deed. And yet it is an act of justice. Therefore justice is not 
a virtue. 

Obj. 2. Further, that which is done of necessity is not meritori- 
ous. But to render to a man what belongs to him, as justice re- 
quires, is of necessity. Therefore it is not meritorious. Yet it is 
by virtuous actions that we gain merit. Therefore justice is not 
a virtue. 

Obj. 3 . Further [every moral virtue deals with inherent activities 
(agibilia). Those things, on the other hand, which are made out- 
side of the doer are not agibilia but jactibilia^ according to the 
Philosopher.^® Now, since it pertains to justice to produce, exter- 
nally, a deed which is just in itself, it follows that justice is not 
a moral virtue.] *^ 

On the contrary, Gregory says that "the entire structure of 
good works is built on four virtues," ^® viz., temperance, prudence, 
fortitude and justice. 

/ answer that, A human virtue is one "which renders a human 
act and man himself good," ^^ and this can be applied to justice. 
For a man's act is made good through attaining the rule of rea- 
son, which is the rule whereby human acts are regulated. Hence, 
since justice regulates human operations, it is evident that it 
renders man's operations good; and, as Cicero declares, good men 
are so called chiefly from their justice, wherefore, as he says again, 
"the luster of virtue appears above all in justice." ^^ 

Reply Obj. i. When a man does what he ought, he brings no 
gain to the person to whom he does what he ought, but only ab- 

* [See Glossary under art.'] 

CD.F. Tr.: every moral virtue is about matters of action. Now those things 
which are wrought externally are not things concerning behavior but con- 
cerning handicraft, according to the Philosopher.i^ Therefore, since it belongs 
to justice to produce externally a deed that is just in itself, it seems that 
justice is not a moral virtue. 



OF JUSTICE III 

stains from doing him a harm. He does, however, profit himself, 
in so far as he does what he ought spontaneously and readily, 
and this is to act virtuously. Hence it is written that divine wis- 
dom "teacheth temperance, and prudence, and justice, and forti- 
tude, which are such things as men (i.e. virtuous men) can have 
nothing more profitable in life." ^^ 

Reply Obj. 2. Necessity is twofold. One arises from constraint, 
and this removes merit, since it runs counter to the will. The other 
arises from the obligation of a command or from the necessity of 
obtaining an end when, to wit, a man is unable to achieve the 
end of virtue without doing some particular thing. The latter 
necessity does not remove merit when a man does voluntarily that 
which is necessary in this way. It does however exclude the credit 
of supererogation; according to i Corinthians ix. 16, "If I preach 
the Gospel, it is no glory to me^ for a necessity lieth upon me." 

Reply Obj. 3. Justice is concerned about external things, not 
by making them, which pertains to art, but by using them in our 
dealings with other men. 



Fourth Article 
WHETHER JUSTICE IS IN THE WILL AS ITS SUBJECT? 

We proceed thus to the Fourth Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that justice is not in the will as its 
subject. For justice is sometimes called truth. But truth is not in 
the will, but in the intellect. Therefore justice is not in the will as 
its subject. 

Obj. 2. Further, justice is about our dealings with others. Now 
it belongs to the reason to direct one thing in relation to another. 
Therefore justice is not in the will as its subject but in the reason. 

Obj. 3. Further, justice is not an intellectual virtue, since it is 
not directed to knowledge; wherefore it follows that it is a moral 
virtue. Now the subject of moral virtue is the faculty which is 
"rational by participation," viz. the irascible and the concupisci- 
ble, as the Philosopher declares.^* Therefore justice is not in the 
will as its subject, but in the irascible and concupiscible. 



112 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

On the contrary, Anselm says that "justice is rectitude of the 
will observed for its own sake." ^^ 

/ answer that, The subject of a virtue is the power whose act 
that virtue aims at rectifying. Now justice does not aim at direct- 
ing an act of the cognitive power, for we are not said to be just 
through knowing something aright. Hence the subject of justice 
is not the intellect or reason, which is a cognitive power. But since 
we are said to be just through doing something aright, and be- 
cause the proximate principle of action is the appetitive power, 
justice must needs be in some appetitive power as its subject. 

Now the appetite is twofold; namely, the will which is in the 
reason, and the sensitive appetite which follows on sensitive ap- 
prehension, and is divided into the irascible and the concupisci- 
ble, as stated in the First Part.^* Again the act of rendering his 
due to each man cannot proceed from the sensitive appetite, be- 
cause sensitive apprehension does not go so far as to be able to 
consider the relation of one thing to another; but this is proper 
to the reason. Therefore justice cannot be in the irascible or con- 
cupiscible as its subject, but only in the will; hence the Philoso- 
pher defines justice by an act of the will,^''' as may be seen above 
(A. I). 

Reply Ob}, i. Since the will is the rational appetite, when the 
rectitude of the reason which is called truth is imprinted on the 
will on account of its nighness to the reason, this imprint retains 
the name of truth; and hence it is that justice sometimes goes by 
the name of truth. 

Reply Obj. 2. The will is borne toward its object consequently 
on the apprehension of reason; wherefore, since the reason directs 
one thing in relation to another, the will can will one thing in re- 
lation to another, and this belongs to justice. 

Reply Obj. 3, Not only the irascible and concupiscible parts 
are "rational by participation," but the entire "appetitive" faculty, 
as stated in Ethics i. 13, because all appetite is subject to reason. 
Now the will is contained in the appetitive faculty, wherefore it 
can be the subject of moral virtue. 



of justice 113 

Fifth Article 
WHETHER JUSTICE IS A GENERAL VIRTUE? 

We proceed thus to the Fifth Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that justice is not a general virtue. 
For justice is specified with the other virtues, according to Wis- 
dom viii. 7: ''She teacheth temperance, and prudence, and justice, 
and fortitude." Now the "general" is not specified or reckoned 
together with the species contained under the same "general." 
Therefore justice is not a general virtue. 

Obj. 2. Further, as justice is accounted a cardinal virtue, so 
are temperance and fortitude. Now neither temperance nor forti- 
tude is reckoned to be a general virtue. Therefore neither should 
justice in any way be reckoned a general virtue. 

Obj. 3. Further, justice is always toward others, as stated 
above (A. 2). But a sin committed against one's neighbor can- 
not be a general sin, because it is condivided with sin committed 
against oneself. Therefore neither is justice a general virtue. 

On the contrary, The Philosopher says that "justice is every 
virtue." ^^ 

/ answer that, Justice, as stated above (A. 2), directs man in 
his relations with other men. Now this may happen in two ways: 
first, as regards his relations with individuals; secondly, as re- 
gards his relations with others in general, in so far as a man who 
serves a community serves all those who are included in that com- 
munity. Accordingly justice in its proper acceptation can be di- 
rected to another in both these senses. Now it is evident that all 
who are included in a community stand in relation to that commu- 
nity as parts to a whole ; while a part, as such, belongs to a whole, 
so that whatever is the good of a part can be directed to the good 
of the whole. It follows, therefore, that the good of any virtue, 
whether such virtue direct man in relation to himself or in rela- 
tion to certain other individual persons, is referable to the com- 
mon good to which justice directs; so that all acts of virtue can 
pertain to justice, in so far as it directs man to the common good. 
It is in this sense that justice is called a general virtue. And since 



114 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

it belongs to the law to direct to the common good, as stated above 
(I-II, Q. 90, A. 2), it follows that the justice which is in this way 
styled general, is called "legal justice," because thereby man is 
in harmony with the law which directs the acts of all the virtues 
to the common good. 

Reply Obj. 1. Justice is specified or enumerated with the other 
virtues, not as a general but as a special virtue, as we shall state 
further on (AA. 7, 12). 

Reply Obj. 2. Temperance and fortitude are in the sensitive 
appetite, viz. in the concupiscible and irascible. Now these pow- 
ers are appetitive of certain particular goods, even as the senses 
are cognitive of particulars. On the other hand justice is in the 
intellective appetite as its subject, which can have the universal 
good as its object, knowledge whereof belongs to the intellect. 
Hence justice can be a general virtue rather than temperance or 
fortitude. 

Reply Obj. 3. Things referable to oneself are referable to an- 
other, especially in regard to the common good. Wherefore legal 
justice, in so far as it directs to the common good, may be called 
a general virtue, and in like manner injustice may be called a 
general sin; hence it is written that all *'sin is iniquity."^® 



Sixth Article 

WHETHER JUSTICE, AS A GENERAL VIRTUE, IS 
ESSENTIALLY THE SAME AS ALL VIRTUE? 

We proceed thus to the Sixth Article: 

Objection 1. It would seem that justice, as a general virtue, is 
essentially the same as all virtue. For the Philosopher says that 
"virtue and legal justice are the same as all virtue, but differ in their 
mode of being." ^® Now things that differ merely in their mode 
of being or [subjectively] ^ do not differ essentially. Therefore 
justice is essentially the same as every virtue. 

Obj. 2. Further, every virtue that is not essentially the same 
as all virtue is a part of virtue. Now the aforesaid justice, accord- 
d D.F. Tr.: logically. 



OF JUSTICE IIS 

ing to the Philosopher, "is not a part but the whole of virtue," *^ 
Therefore the aforesaid justice is essentially the same as all virtue. 

Obj. 3. Further, the essence of a virtue does not change through 
that virtue directing its act to some higher end, even as the habit 
of temperance remains essentially the same even though its act 
be directed to a divine good. Now it belongs to legal justice that 
the acts of all the virtues are directed to a higher end, namely, 
the common good of the multitude, which transcends the good of 
one single individual. Therefore it seems that legal justice is es- 
sentially all virtue. 

Obj. 4. Further, every good of a part can be directed to the 
good of the whole, so that if it be not thus directed it would seem 
without use or purpose. But that which is in accordance with vir- 
tue cannot be so. Therefore it seems that there can be no act of 
any virtue that does not belong to general justice, which directs 
to the common good ; and so it seems that general justice is essen- 
tially the same as all virtue. 

On the contrary, The Philosopher says that "many are able to 
be virtuous in matters affecting themselves, but are unable to be 
virtuous in matters relating to others," '^ and that "the virtue of 
the good man is not strictly the same as the virtue of the good 
citizen." ^^ Now the virtue of a good citizen is general justice, 
whereby a man is directed to the common good. Therefore gen- 
eral justice is not the same as virtue in general, and it is possible 
to have one without the other. 

/ answer that, A thing is said to be "general" in two ways. First, 
by "predication": thus "animal" is general in relation to man and 
horse and the like; and in this sense that which is general must 
needs be essentially the same as the things in relation to which it 
is general, for the reason that the genus belongs to the essence of 
the species and forms part of its definition. Secondly, a thing is 
said to be general [in accordance with its power] : ® thus a univer- 
sal cause is general in relation to all its effects — the sun, for in- 
stance, in relation to all bodies that are illumined or transmuted by 
its power; and in this sense there is no need for that which is 
"general" to be essentially the same as those things in relation to 
eD.F. Tr.: virtually. 



Il6 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

which it is general, since cause and effect are not essentially the 
same. Now it is in the latter sense that, according to what has been 
said (A. 5), legal justice is said to be a general virtue, inasmuch, 
to wit, as it directs the acts of the other virtues to its own end, and 
this is to move all the other virtues by its command; for just as 
charity may be called a general virtue in so far as it directs the acts 
of all the virtues to the divine good, so, too, is legal justice in so far 
as it directs the acts of all the virtues to the common good. Accord- 
ingly, just as charity which regards the divine good as its proper 
object is a special virtue in respect of its essence, so, too, legal 
justice is a special virtue in respect of its essence in so far as it 
regards the common good as its proper object. And thus it is in 
the sovereign principally and by way of a master-craft, while it 
is secondarily and administratively in his subjects. 

However the name of legal justice can be given to every vir- 
tue in so far as every virtue is directed to the common good by 
the aforesaid legal justice, which though special essentially is 
nevertheless [general in accordance with its efficacy] .' Speaking in 
this way, legal justice is essentially the same as all virtue, but 
differs therefrom logically; and it is in this sense that the Philoso- 
pher speaks. 

Wherefore the Replies to the First and Second Objections are 
manifest. 

Reply Obj. 3. This argument again takes legal justice for the 
virtue commanded by legal justice. 

Reply Obj. 4. Every virtue, strictly speaking, directs its act to 
that virtue's proper end; that it should happen to be directed to 
a further end either always or sometimes does not belong to that 
virtue considered strictly, for it needs some higher virtue to direct 
it to that end. Consequently there must be one supreme virtue 
essentially distinct from every other virtue, which directs all the 
virtues to the common good; and this virtue is legal justice. 
'D.F. Tr.: virtually general. 



of justice 117 

Seventh Article 

WHETHER THERE IS A PARTICULAR BESIDES A 
GENERAL JUSTICE? 

We proceed thus to the Seventh Article: 

Objection i . It would seem that there is not a particular besides 
a general justice. For there is nothing superfluous in the virtues, 
as neither is there in nature. Now general justice directs man suf. 
ficiently in all his relations with other men. Therefore there is no 
need for a particular justice. 

Obj. 2. Further, the species of a virtue does not vary accord- 
ing to "one" and "many." But legal justice directs one man to 
another in matters relating to the multitude, as shown above 
(AA. 5, 6). Therefore there is not another species of justice di- 
recting one man to another in matters relating to the individual. 

Obj. 3. Further, between the individual and the general pub- 
lic stands the household community. Consequently, if in addition 
to general justice there is a particular justice corresponding to 
the individual, for the same reason there should be a domestic 
justice directing man to the common good of a household; and 
yet this is not the case. Therefore neither should there be a par- 
ticular besides a legal justice. 

On the contrary, Chrysostom in his commentary on Matthew 
v. 6, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice," 
says: "By justice He signifies either the general virtue or the par- 
ticular virtue which is opposed to covetousness." ^* 

/ answer that, As stated above (A. 6), legal justice is not es- 
sentially the same as every virtue, and besides legal justice, which 
directs man immediately to the common good, there is need for 
other virtues to direct him immediately in matters relating to par- 
ticular goods; and these virtues may be relative to himself or to 
another individual person. Accordingly, just as in addition to le- 
gal justice there is a need for particular virtues to direct man in 
relation to himself, such as temperance and fortitude, so, too, be- 
sides legal justice there is need for particular justice to direct man 
in his relations to other individuals. 



Il8 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

Reply Ob}, i. Legal justice does indeed direct man sufficiently 
in his relations toward others. As regards the common good it 
does so immediately, but as to the good of the individual, it does 
so mediately. Wherefore there is need for particular justice to 
direct a man immediately to the good of another individual. 

Reply Obj. 2. The common good of the realm and the partic- 
ular good of the individual differ not only in respect of the "many" 
and the "few," but also under a formal [essence].^ For the 
essence of the "common" good differs from the essence of the "indi- 
vidual" good, even as the essence of "whole" differs from that of 
"part." Wherefore the Philosopher says that "they are wrong who 
maintain that the State and the home and the like differ only as 
many and few and not specifically." ^'^ 

Reply Obj. 3. The household community, according to the Phi- 
losopher, differs in respect of a threefold fellowship; namely, "of 
husband and wife, father and son, master and slave," ^® in each 
of which one person is, as it were, part of the other. Wherefore 
between such persons there is not justice simply, but a species 
of justice, viz. "domestic" justice, as stated in Ethics v. 6. 



Eighth Article 

WHETHER PARTICULAR JUSTICE HAS A SPECIAL 
MATTER? 

We proceed thus to the Eighth Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that particular justice has no spe- 
cial matter. Because a gloss on Genesis ii. 14, "The fourth river 
is Euphrates," says: "Euphrates signifies 'fruitful'; nor is it stated 
through what country it flows, because justice pertains to all the 
parts of the soul." Now this would not be the case if justice had 
a special matter, since every special matter belongs to a special 
power. Therefore particular justice has no special matter. 

Ob']. 2. Further, Augustine says that "the soul has four virtues 
whereby, in this life, it lives spiritually, viz. temperance, prudence, 
fortitude and justice"; and he says that "the fourth is justice, 
ED.F. Tr.: "aspect" throughout Reply Obj. 2. 



OF JUSTICE 119 

which pervades all the virtues," ^"^ Therefore particular justice, 
which is one of the four cardinal virtues, has no special matter. 

Obj. 3, Further, justice directs man sufficiently in matters re- 
lating to others. Now a man can be directed to others in all mat- 
ters relating to this life. Therefore the matter of justice is general 
and not special. 

On the contrary, The Philosopher reckons particular justice to 
be specially about those things which belong to social life.^^ 

/ answer that, Whatever can be rectified by reason is the mat- 
ter of moral virtue, for this is defined in reference to right reason, 
according to the Philosopher.^® Now the reason can rectify not 
only the internal passions of the soul, but also external actions, 
and also those external things of which man can make use. And 
yet it is in respect of external actions and external things by means 
of which men can communicate with one another that the relation 
of one man to another is to be considered; whereas it is in re- 
spect of internal passions that we consider man's rectitude in him- 
self. Consequently, since justice is directed to others, it is not 
about the entire matter of moral virtue, but only about external 
actions and things, under a certain special aspect of the object, in 
so far as one man is related to another through them. 

Reply Ob'}, i. It is true that justice belongs essentially to one 
part of the soul, where it resides as in its subject; and this is the 
will which moves by its command all the other parts of the soul; 
and, accordingly, justice belongs to all the parts of the soul, not 
directly but by a kind of diffusion. 

Reply Obj. 2. As stated above,*" the cardinal virtues may be 
taken in two ways: first, as special virtues, each having a deter- 
minate matter; secondly, as certain general modes of virtue. In 
this latter sense Augustine speaks in the passage quoted; for he 
says that "prudence is knowledge of what we should seek and 
avoid, temperance is the curb on the lust for fleeting pleasures, 
fortitude is strength of mind in bearing with passing trials, justice 
is the love of God and our neighbor which pervades the other 
virtues, that is to say, is the common principle of the entire order 
between one man and another." 

Reply Ob']. 3. A man's internal passions which are a part of 



120 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

moral matter are not in themselves directed to another man, 
which belongs to the specific nature of justice; yet their effects, 
i.e., external actions, are capable of being directed to another man. 
Consequently it does not follow that the matter of justice is 
general. 



Ninth Article 
WHETHER JUSTICE IS ABOUT THE PASSIONS? 

We proceed thus to the Ninth Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that justice is about the passions. 
For the Philosopher says that "moral virtue is about pleasure and 
pain." *^ Now pleasure or delight, and pain are passions, as stated 
above *^ when we were treating of the passions. Therefore justice, 
being a moral virtue, is about the passions. 

Obj. 2 . Further, justice is the means of rectifying a man's opera- 
tions in relation to another man. Now suchlike operations cannot 
be rectified unless the passions be rectified, because it is owing to 
disorder of the passions that there is disorder in the aforesaid op- 
erations; thus sexual lust leads to adultery, and overmuch love 
of money leads to theft. Therefore justice must needs be about 
the passions. 

Obj. 3. Further, even as particular justice is toward another 
person, so is legal justice. Now legal justice is about the passions, 
else it would not extend to all the virtues, some of which are evi- 
dently about the passions. Therefore justice is about the passions. 

On the contrary, The Philosopher says that justice is about 
operations.** 

/ answer that, The true answer to this question may be gathered 
from a twofold source. First from the subject of justice, i.e. from 
the will, whose movements or acts are not passions, as stated 
above,** for it is only the sensitive appetite whose movements 
are called passions. Hence justice is not about the passions, as are 
temperance and fortitude, which are in the irascible and concu- 
piscible parts. Secondly, on the part of the matter, because justice 
is about a man's relations with another, and we are not directed 



OF JUSTICE 121 

immediately to another by the internal passions. Therefore justice 
is not about the passions. 

Reply Ob}, i. Not every moral virtue is about pleasure and 
pain as its proper matter, since fortitude is about fear and dar- 
ing; but every moral virtue is directed to pleasure and pain, as 
to ends to be acquired, for, as the Philosopher says, "pleasure and 
pain are the principal end in respect of which we say that this is 
an evil and that a good," ^^ and in this way, too, they belong to 
justice, since "a man is not just unless he rejoice in just actions." ^® 

Reply Ob']. 2. External operations are, as it were, between ex- 
ternal things which are their matter and internal passions which 
are their origin. Now it happens sometimes that there is a defect 
in one of these, without there being a defect in the other. Thus a 
man may steal another's property, not through the desire to have 
the thing, but through the will to hurt the man; or vice versa, a 
man may covet another's property without wishing to steal it. 
Accordingly, the directing of operations in so far as they tend to- 
ward external things belongs to justice, but in so far as they arise 
from the passions it belongs to the other moral virtues which are 
about the passions. Hence justice hinders theft of another's prop- 
erty in so far as stealing is contrary to the equality that should 
be maintained in external things, while liberality hinders it as re- 
sulting from an immoderate desire for wealth. Since, however, 
external operations take their species, not from the hitemal pas- 
sions, but from external things as being their objects, it follows 
that external operations are essentially the matter of justice rather 
than of the other moral virtues. 

Reply Obj. 3. The common good is the end of each individual 
member of a community, just as the good of the whole is the end 
of each part. On the other hand the good of one individual is not 
the end of another individual; wherefore legal justice which is 
directed to the common good is more capable of extending to the 
internal passions whereby man is disposed in some way or other 
in himself, than particular justice which is directed to the good 
of another individual; although legal justice extends chiefly to 
other virtues in the point of their external operations, in so far, 
to wit, as "the law commands us to perform the actions of a 



122 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-II 

courageous person . . . the actions of a temperate person . . . 
and the actions of a gentle person." *^ 



Tenth Article 
WHETHER THE MEAN OF JUSTICE IS THE REAL MEAN? 

We proceed thus to the Tenth Article: 

Objection i. [It would seem that the mean of justice is not the 
mean of the thing. For the nature of genus is to be found in all its 
species. Now moral virtue (which is a genus) is defined as "an 
elective habit existing in a mean, which mean is to be found (not 
in things but) in relation to us, so determined by reason." ^^ There- 
fore justice is the mean of reason, not of the thing.] ^ 

Ob}. 2. Further, in things that are good simply, there is neither 
excess nor defect, and consequently neither is there a mean, as is 
clearly the case with the virtues, according to Ethics ii. 6. Now 
justice is about things that are good simply, as stated in Ethics v. 
Therefore justice does not observe the real mean. 

Obj. 3. Further, the reason why the other virtues are said to 
observe the rational and not the real mean is because in their case 
the mean varies according to different persons, since what is too 
much for one is too little for another.^® Now this is also the case 
in justice; for one who strikes a prince does not receive the same 
punishment as one who strikes a private individual. Therefore 
justice also observes, not the real, but the rational mean. 

On the contrary, The Philosopher says that the mean of justice 
is to be taken according to "arithmetical" proportion,'*® so that it 
is the real mean. 

/ answer that, As stated above (A. 9; I-II, Q. 59, A. 4), the 
other moral virtues are chiefly concerned with the passions, the 
regulation of which is gauged entirely by a comparison with 
the very man who is the subject of those passions, in so far as his 

••D.F. Tr.: It would seem that the mean of justice is not the real mean. For 
the generic nature remains entire in each species. Now moral virtue is defined 
to be "an elective habit which observes the mean fixed, in our regard, by 
reason." *8 Therefore justice observes the rational and not the real mean. 



OF JUSTICE 123 

anger and desire are vested with their various due circumstances. 
Hence the mean in suchlike virtues is measured not by the pro- 
portion of one thing to another, but merely by comparison with 
the virtuous man himself^ so that with them the mean is only that 
which is fixed by reason in our regard. 

On the other hand, the matter of justice is external operation 
in so far as an operation or the thing used in that operation is 
duly proportionate to another person; wherefore the mean of 
justice consists in a certain proportion of equality between the 
external thing and the external person. Now equality is the real 
mean between greater and less, as stated in Metaphysics x; '^ 
wherefore justice observes the real mean. 

Reply Obj. i. This real mean is also the rational mean, where- 
fore justice satisfies the conditions of a moral virtue. 

Reply Obj. 2. We may speak of a thing being good simply in 
two ways. First, a thing may be good in every way: thus the 
virtues are good, and there is neither mean nor extremes in things 
that are good simply in this sense. Secondly, a thing is said to 
be good simply through being good absolutely, i.e. in its nature, 
although it may become evil through being abused. Such are riches 
and honors ; and in the like it is possible to find excess, deficiency, 
and mean, as regards men who can use them well or ill; and it is 
in this sense that justice is about things that are good simply. 

Reply Obj. 3. The injury inflicted bears a different proportion 
to a prince from that which it bears to a private person; where- 
fore each injury requires to be equalized by vengeance in a dif- 
ferent way, and this implies a real and not merely a rational di- 
versity. 



Eleventh Article 

WHETHER THE ACT OF JUSTICE IS TO RENDER TO 
EACH ONE HIS OWN? 

We proceed thus to the Eleventh Article: 
Objection i . It would seem that the act of justice is not to ren- 
der to each one his own. For Augustine ascribes to justice the act 



124 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

of succoring the needy ."^ Now in succoring the needy we give 
them what is not theirs but ours. Therefore the act of justice does 
not consist in rendering to each one his own. 

Obj. 2. Further, Cicero says that "beneficence, whicn we may 
call kindness or liberality, belongs to justice." ^^ Now it pertains 
to liberality to give to another of one's own, not of what is his. 
Therefore the act of justice does not consist in rendering to each 
one his own. 

Obj. 3. Further, it belongs to justice not only to distribute things 
duly, but also to repress injurious actions, such as murder, adultery, 
and so forth. But the rendering to each one of what is his seems 
to belong solely to the distribution of things. Therefore the act of 
justice is not sufficiently described by saying that it consists in 
rendering to each one his own. 

On the contrary, Ambrose says: "It is justice that renders to 
each one what is his, and claims not another's property; it disre- 
gards its own profit in order to preserve the common equity." ^^ 

I answer that, As stated above (AA. 8, 10), the matter of justice 
is an external operation in so far as either it or the thing we use 
by it is made proportionate to some other person to whom we are 
related by justice. Now each man's own is that which is due to 
him according to equality of proportion. Therefore the proper act 
of justice is nothing else than to render to each one his own. 

Reply Ob], i . Since justice is a cardinal virtue, other secondary 
virtues, such as mercy, liberality, and the like, are connected with 
it, as we shall state further on.''' Wherefore to succor the needy, 
which belongs to mercy or pity, and to be liberally beneficent, 
which pertains to liberality, are by a kind of reduction ascribed to 
justice as to their principal virtue. 

This suffices for the Reply to the Second Objection. 

Reply Obj. 3. As the Philosopher states, in matters of justice the 
name of "profit" is extended to whatever is excessive, and what- 
ever is deficient is called "loss." ^^ The reason for this is that 
justice is first of all and more commonly exercised in voluntary 
interchanges of things, such as buying and selling, wherein those 
expressions are properly employed; and yet they are transferred to 



OF JUSTICE 125 

all other matters of justice. The same applies to the rendering to 
each one of what is his own. 



Twelfth Article 

WHETHER JUSTICE STANDS FOREMOST AMONG ALL 
MORAL VIRTUES? 

We proceed thus to the Twelfth Article: 

Objection 1. It would seem that justice does not stand foremost 
among all the moral virtues. Because it belongs to justice to render 
to each one what is his, whereas it belongs to liberality to give of 
one's own, and this is more virtuous. Therefore liberality is a 
greater virtue than justice. 

Obj. 2. Further, nothing is adorned by a less excellent thing than 
itself. Now magnanimity is the ornament both of justice and of 
all the virtues, according to Ethics iv. 3. Therefore magnanimity is 
more excellent than justice. 

Obj. 3. Further, virtue is about that which is "difficult" and 
"good," as stated in Ethics ii. 3. But fortitude is about more dif- 
ficult things than justice is, since it is about dangers of death, 
according to Ethics iii. 6. Therefore fortitude is more excellent 
than justice. 

On the contrary, Cicero says: "Justice is the most resplendent 
of the virtues and gives its name to a good man." °'' 

/ answer that, If we speak of legal justice, it is evident that it 
stands foremost among all the moral virtues, for as much as the 
common good transcends the individual good of one person. In 
this sense the Philosopher declares that "the most excellent of the 
virtues would seem to be justice, and more glorious than either the 
evening or the morning star." ^^ But even if we speak of particular 
justice, it excels the other moral virtues for two reasons. The first 
reason may be taken from the subject because justice is in the 
more excellent part of the soul, viz. the rational appetite or will, 
whereas the other moral virtues are in the sensitive appetite, 
whereunto appertain the passions which are the matter of the other 



126 SUMMA THEOLOGICA Il-n 

moral virtues. The second reason is taken from the object, because 
the other virtues are commendable in respect of the sole good of the 
virtuous person himself, whereas justice is praiseworthy in respect 
of the virtuous person being well disposed toward another, so that 
justice is somewhat the good of another person, as stated in Ethics 
v. I. Hence the Philosopher says: "The greatest virtues must needs 
be those which are most profitable to other persons, because 
virtue is a faculty of doing good to others. For this reason the 
greatest honors are accorded the brave and the just, since bravery 
is useful to others in warfare, and justice is useful to others both 
in warfare and in time of peace." ^^ 

Reply Obj. i . Although the liberal man gives of his own, yet he 
does so in so far as he takes into consideration the good of his own 
virtue, while the just man gives to another what is his, through con- 
sideration of the common good. Moreover justice is observed to- 
ward all, whereas liberality cannot extend to all. Again liberality 
which gives of a man's own is based on justice, whereby one 
renders to each man what is his. 

Reply Obj. 2. When magnanimity is added to justice it increases 
the latter 's goodness; and yet without justice it would not even 
be a virtue. 

Reply Obj. 3. Although fortitude is about the most difficult 
things, it is not about the best, for it is only useful in warfare, 
whereas justice is useful both in war and in peace, as stated above. 



QUESTION 66 

OF THEFT AND ROBBERY 

(In Nine Articles) 

We must now consider the sins opposed to justice whereby a man 
injures his neighbor in his belongings, namely, theft and robbery. 
Under this head there are nine points of inquiry: (i) Whether 
it is natural to man to possess external things? (2) Whether it is 
lawful for a man to possess something as his own? (3) Whether 
theft is the secret taking of another's property? (4) Whether rob- 
bery is a species of sin distinct from theft? (5) Whether every 
theft is a sin? (6) Whether theft is a mortal sin? (7) Whether it 
is lawful to thieve in a case of necessity? (8) Whether every rob- 
bery is a mortal sin? (9) Whether robbery is a more grievous sin 
than theft? 



FmsT Article 

WHETHER IT IS NATURAL FOR MAN TO POSSESS 
EXTERNAL THINGS? 

We proceed thus to the First Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that it is not natural for man to 
possess external things. For no man should ascribe to himself that 
which is God's. Now the dominion over all creatures is proper to 
God, according to Psalm xxiii. i, "The earth is the Lord's," etc. 
Therefore it is not natural for man to possess external things. 

Ob']. 2. Further, Basil, in expounding the words of the rich man, 
"I will gather all things that are grown to me, and my goods," ^ 
says: "Tell me; which are thine? where did you take them from 
and bring them into being?" ^ Now whatever man possesses 
naturally, he can fittingly call his own. Therefore man does not 
naturally possess external things. 

127 



128 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

Obj. 3. Further, according to Ambrose^ ["the word 'owner' is 
a term implying power."] * But man has no power over external 
things, since he can work no change in their nature. Therefore the 
possession of external things is not natural to man. 

On the contrary, It is written: "Thou hast subjected all things 
under his feet."* 

/ answer that, External things can be considered in two ways. 
First, as regards their nature, and this is not subject to the power 
of man, but only to the power of God, Whose mere will all things 
obey. Secondly, as regards their use, and in this way man has a 
natural dominion over external things, because, by his reason and 
will, he is able to use them for his own profit, as they were made 
on his account, for the imperfect is always for the sake of the per- 
fect, as stated above.^ It is by this argument that the Philosopher 
proves that the possession of external things is natural to man,® 
Moreover, this natural dominion of man over other creatures, 
which is competent to man in respect of his reason, wherein God's 
image resides, is shown forth in man's creation by the words: 
"Let Us make man to Our image and likeness, and let him have 
dominion over the fishes of the sea," ' etc. 

Reply Obj. i. God has sovereign dominion over all things; and 
He, according to His providence, directed certain things to the 
sustenance of man's body. For this reason man has a natural 
dominion over things, as regards the power to make use of them. 

Reply Obj. 2. The rich man is reproved for deeming external 
things to belong to him principally, as though he had not received 
them from another, namely, from God. 

Reply Obj. 3. This argument considers the dominion over ex- 
ternal things -as regards their nature. Such a dominion belongs to 
God alone, as stated above. 
aD.F. Tr.: "dominion denotes power." 



of theft and robbery 1 29 

Second Article 

WHETHER IT IS LAWFUL FOR A MAN TO POSSESS A 
THING AS HIS OWN? 

We proceed thus to the Second Article: 

Objection i. It would seem unlawful for a man to possess a 
thing as his own. For whatever is contrary to the natural law is 
unlawful. Now according to the natural law all things are com- 
mon property, and the possession of property is contrary to this 
community of goods. Therefore it is unlawful for any man to 
appropriate any external thing to himself. 

Ob'j. 2. Further, Basil, in expounding the words of the rich man 
quoted above (A. i, Obj. 2), says: "The rich who deem as their 
own property the common goods they have seized upon are like to 
those who by going beforehand to the play prevent others from 
coming, and appropriate to themselves what is intended for com- 
mon use." Now it would be unlawful to prevent others from ob- 
taining possession of common goods. Therefore it is unlawful to 
appropriate to oneself what belongs to the community. 

Obj. 3. Further, Ambrose says,^ and his words are quoted in the 
Decretals: "Let no man call his own that which is common prop- 
erty,"* and by "common" he means external things, as is clear 
from the context. Therefore it seems unlawful for a man to appro- 
priate an external thing to himself. 

On the contrary,. hMgusiine says: "The 'Apostolici' are those 
who with extreme arrogance have given themselves that name, 
because they do not admit into their communion persons who are 
married or possess anything of their own, such as both monks 
and clerics who in considerable number are to be found in the 
Catholic Church." ^^ Now the reason why these people are heretics 
is because, severing themselves from the Church, they think that 
those who enjoy the use of the above things, which they them- 
selves lack, have no hope of salvation. Therefore it is erroneous to 
maintain that it is unlawful for a man to possess property. 

/ answer that, Two things are competent to man in respect of 
exterior things. One is the power to procure and dispense them, 



I30 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

and in this regard it is lawful for man to possess property. More- 
over this is necessary to human life for three reasons. First, be- 
cause every man is more careful to procure what is for himself alone 
than that which is common to many or to all ; since each one would 
shirk the labor and leave to another that which concerns the com- 
munity, as happens where there is a great number of servants. 
Secondly, because human affairs are conducted in more orderly 
fashion if each man is charged with taking care of some particular 
thing himself, whereas there would be confusion if everyone had to 
look after any one thing indeterminately. Thirdly, because a more 
peaceful state is insured to man if each one is contented with his 
own. Hence it is to be observed that quarrels arise more frequently 
where there is no division of the things possessed. 

The second thing that is competent to man with regard to ex- 
ternal things is their use. In this respect man ought to possess 
external things, not as his own, but as common, so that, to wit, he 
is ready to communicate them to others in their need. Hence the 
Apostle says: "Charge the rich of this world ... to give easily, to 
communicate to others," etc.^^ 

Reply Obj. i. Community of goods is ascribed to the natural 
law, not that the natural law dictates that all things should be 
possessed in common and that nothing should be possessed as one's 
own, but because the division of possessions is not according to 
the natural law, but rather arose from human agreement, which 
belongs to positive law, as stated above (Q. 57, AA. 2, 3). Hence 
the ownership of possessions is not contrary to the natural law, but 
an addition thereto devised by human reason. 

Reply Obj. 2. A man would not act unlawfully if by going be- 
forehand to the play he prepared the way for others, but he acts 
unlawfully if by so doing he hinders others from going. In like 
manner a rich man does not act unlawfully if he anticipates some- 
one in taking possession of something which at first was common 
property and gives others a share, but he sins if he excludes others 
indiscriminately from using it. Hence Basil says: "Why are you 
rich while another is poor, unless it be that you may have the merit 
of a good stewardship and he the reward of patience?" ^^ 



OF THEFT AND ROBBERY I3I 

Reply Ob). 3. When Ambrose says: "Let no man call his own 
that which is common," he is speaking of ownership as regards use, 
wherefore he adds: "He who spends too much is a robber." 



Third Article 

WHETHER THE ESSENCE OF THEFT CONSISTS IN 
TAKING ANOTHER'S THING SECRETLY? 

We proceed thus to the Third Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that it is not essential to theft to 
take another's thing secretly. For that which diminishes a sin 
does not, apparently, belong to the essence of a sin. Now to sin 
secretly tends to diminish a sin, just as, on the contrary, it is 
written as indicating an aggravating circumstance of the sin of 
some: "They have proclaimed abroad their sin as Sodom, and 
they have not hid it." ^^ Therefore it is not essential to theft that 
it should consist in taking another's thing secretly. 

Obj. 2. Further, Ambrose says,^* and his words are embodied 
in the Decretals: "It is no less a crime to take from him that has 
than to refuse to succor the needy when you can and are well 
off." ^^ Therefore, just as theft consists in taking another's thing, 
so does it consist in keeping it back. 

Obj. 3. Further, a man may take by stealth from another even 
that which is his own, for instance, a thing that he has deposited 
with another, or that has been taken away from him unjustly. 
Therefore, it is not essential to theft that it should consist in tak- 
ing another's thing secretly. 

On the contrary, Isidore says: "F«r (thief) is derived from 
furvus and so from juscus (dark), because he takes advantage of 
the night." i« 

/ answer that, Three things combine together to constitute theft. 
The first belongs to theft as being contrary to justice, which gives 
to each one that which is his, so that it belongs to theft to take 
possession of what is another's. The second thing belongs to theft 
as distinct from those sins which are committed against the person, 



132 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-II 

such as murder and adultery, and in this respect it belongs to theft 
to be about a thing possessed ; for if a man takes what is another's, 
not as a possession but as a part (for instance, if he amputates a 
limb), or as a person connected with him (for instance, if he carry 
off his daughter or his wife), it is not, strictly speaking, a case of 
theft. The third difference is that which completes the nature of 
theft and consists in a thing being taken secretly, and in this re- 
spect it belongs properly to theft that it consists in "taking an- 
other's thing secretly." 

Reply Ob}, i . Secrecy is sometimes a cause of sin, as when a man 
employs secrecy in order to commit a sin, for instance in fraud and 
guile. In this way it does not diminish sin, but constitutes a species 
of sin, and thus it is in theft. In another way secrecy is merely a 
circumstance of sin, and thus it diminishes sin, both because it is 
a sign of shame and because it removes scandal. 

Reply Obj. 2. To keep back what is due to another inflicts the 
same kind of injury as taking a thing unjustly, wherefore an un- 
just detention is included in an unjust taking. 

Reply Obj. 3. Nothing prevents that which belongs to one per- 
son simply from belonging to another in some respect: thus a 
deposit belongs simply to the depositor, but with regard to its 
custody it is the depositary's, and the thing stolen is the thief's, 
not simply, but as regards its custody. 



Fourth Article 

WHETHER THEFT AND ROBBERY ARE SINS OF 
DIFFERENT SPECIES? 

We proceed thus to the Fourth Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that theft and robbery are not sins 
of different species. For theft and robbery differ as "secret" and 
"manifest"; because theft is taking something secretly, while 
robbery is to take something violently and openly. Now iri the 
other kinds of sins the secret and the manifest do not differ 
specifically. Therefore theft and robbery are not different species of 
sin. 



I 



I 



OF THEFT AND ROBBERY 1 33 

Ob'], i. Further, moral actions take their species from the end, 
as stated above.^'^ Now theft and robbery are directed to the same 
end, viz., the possession of another's property. Therefore they do 
not differ specifically. 

Ob). 3. Further, just as a thing is taken by force for the sake 
of possession, so is a woman taken by force for pleasure; wherefore 
Isidore says that "he who commits a rape is called a corrupter, and 
the victim of the rape is said to be corrupted." ^^ Now it is a case 
of rape whether the woman be carried off publicly or secretly. 
Therefore, the thing appropriated is said to be taken by force, 
whether it be done secretly or publicly. Therefore, theft and rob- 
bery do not differ. 

On the contrary, The Philosopher distinguishes theft from rob- 
bery, and states that theft is done in secret, but that robbery is 
done openly.^® 

/ answer that, Theft and robbery are vices contrary to justice 
inasmuch as one man does another an injustice. Now "no man 
suffers an injustice willingly," as stated in Ethics v, 9. Wherefore 
theft and robbery derive their sinful nature through die taking 
being involuntary on the part of the person from whom something 
is taken. Now the involuntary is twofold, namely, through violence 
and through ignorance, as stated in Ethics iii. i. Therefore the sin- 
ful aspect of robbery differs from that of theft, and consequently 
they differ specifically. 

Reply Ob'}, i. In the other kinds of sin the sinful nature is not 
derived from something involuntary, as in the sins opposed to 
justice; and so, where there is a different kind of involuntary, 
there is a different species of sin. 

Reply Obj. 2. The remote end of robbery and theft is the same. 
But this is not enough for identity of species, because there is a 
difference of proximate ends, since the robber wishes to take a 
thing by his own power, but the thief by cunning. 

Reply Ob']. 3. The robbery of a woman cannot be secret on the 
part of the woman who is taken; wherefore, even if it be secret as 
regards the others from whom she is taken, the nature of robbely 
remains on the part of the woman to whom violence is done. 



134 summa theologica ii-h 

Fifth Article 
WHETHER THEFT IS ALWAYS A SIN? 

We proceed thus to the Fifth Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that theft is not always a sin. For 
no sin is commanded by God, since it is written: "He hath com- 
manded no man to do wickedly." ^® Yet we find that God com- 
manded theft, for it is written: "And the children of Israel did as 
the Lord had commanded Moses*' . . . and they stripped the 
Egyptians." ^^ Therefore theft is not always a sin. 

Obj. 2. Further, if a man finds a thing that is not his and takes 
it, he seems to commit a theft, for he takes another's property. 
Yet this seems lawful according to natural equity, as the jurists 
hold.^^ Therefore it seems that theft is not always a sin. 

Obj. 3. Further, he that takes what is his own does not seem to 
sin, because he does not act against justice, since he does not 
destroy its equality. Yet a man commits a theft even if he secretly 
take his own property that is detained by or in the safekeeping 
of another. Therefore it seems that theft is not always a sin. 

On the contrary, It is written: "Thou shalt not steal." ^^ 

/ answer that, If anyone consider what is meant by theft, he 
will find that it is sinful on two counts. First, because of its opposi- 
tion to justice, which gives to each one what is his, so that for this 
reason theft is contrary to justice, through being a taking of what 
belongs to another. Secondly, because of the guile or fraud com- 
mitted by the thief, by laying hands on another's property secretly 
and cunningly. Wherefore it is evident that every theft is a sin. 

Reply Obj. i . It is no theft for a man to take another's property 
either secretly or openly by order of a judge who has commanded 
him to do so, because it becomes his due by the very fact that it 
is adjudicated to him by the sentence of the court. Hence still less 
was it a theft for the Israelites to take away the spoils of the 
Egyptians at the command of the Lord, Who ordered this to be 
done on account of the ill-treatment accorded to them by the 
i>VuIg.: as Moses had commanded. 



OF THEFT AND ROBBERY 135 

Egyptians without any cause; wherefore it is written significantly: 
"The just took the spoils of the wicked." ^* 

Reply Obj. 2. With regard to treasure-trove a distinction must 
be made. For some there are that were never in anyone's possession, 
for instance precious stones and jewels found on the seashore, and 
such the finder is allowed to keep.^^ The same applies to treasure 
hidden underground long since and belonging to no man, except 
that according to civil law the finder is bound to give half to the 
owner of the land if the treasure-trove be in the land of another 
person.^* Hence in the parable of the gospel it is said of the finder 
of the treasure hidden in a field that he bought the field, as though 
he purposed thus to acquire the right of possessing the whole 
treasure.2^ On the other hand the treasure-trove may be nearly in 
someone's possession; and then if anyone take it with the inten- 
tion, not of keeping it, but of returning it to the owner who does 
not look upon such things as unappropriated, he is not guilty of 
theft. In like manner, if the thing found appears to be unappro- 
priated and if the finder believes it to be so, although he keep it, 
he does not commit a theft.^^ In any other case the sin of theft 
is committed,^^ wherefore Augustine says in a homily: "If thou 
hast found a thing and not returned it, thou hast stolen it." ^® 

Reply Obj. 3. He who by stealth takes his own property, which 
is deposited with another man, burdens the depositary, who is 
bound either to restitution or to prove himself innocent. Hence he 
is clearly guilty of sin and is bound to ease the depositary of his 
burden. On the other hand he who by stealth takes his own prop- 
erty, if this be unjustly detained by another, he sins indeed; yet 
not because he burdens the retainer, and so he is not bound to 
restitution or compensation; but he sins against general justice by 
disregarding the order of justice and usurping judgment concern- 
ing his own property. Hence he must make satisfaction to God 
and endeavor to allay whatever scandal he may have given his 
neighbor by acting in this way. 



136 summa theologica ii-h 

Sixth Article 
WHETHER THEFT IS A MORTAL SIN? 

We proceed thus to the Sixth Article: 

Objection 1. It would seem that theft is not a mortal sin. For it 
is written: "The fault is not so great when a man hath stolen," ^^ 
But every mortal sin is a great fault. Therefore theft is not a mortal 
sin. 

Obj. 2. Further, mortal sin deserves to be punished with death. 
But in the Law theft is punished not by death but by indemnity, 
according to Exodus xxii. i: "If any man steal an ox or a sheep 
... he shall restore five oxen for one ox, and four sheep for one 
sheep." Therefore theft is not a mortal sin. 

Obj. 3. Further, theft can be committed in small even as in 
great things. But it seems unreasonable for a man to be punished 
with eternal death for the theft of a small thing such as a needle or 
a quill. Therefore theft is not a mortal sin. 

On the contrary, No man is condemned by the divine judgment 
save for a mortal sin. Yet a man is condemned for theft, according 
to Zacharias v. 3 : "This is the curse that goeth forth over the face 
of the earth; for every thief shall be judged as is there written." 
Therefore theft is a mortal sin. 

/ answer that, As stated above,^^ a mortal sin is one that is con- 
trary to charity as the spiritual life of the soul. Now charity con- 
sists principally in the love of God, and secondarily in the love of 
our neighbor, which is shown in our wishing and doing him well. 
But theft is a means of doing harm to our neighbor in his belong- 
ings ; and if men were to rob one another habitually, human society 
would be undone. Therefore theft, as being opposed to charity, is 
a mortal sin. 

Reply Obj. I . The statement that theft is not a great fault is in 
view of two cases. First, when a person is led to thieve through 
necessity. This necessity diminishes or entirely removes sin, as we 
shall show further on (A. 7). Hence the text continues: "For he 
stealeth to fill his hungry soul." Secondly, theft is stated not to be 
a great fault in comparison with the guilt of adultery, which is 



OF THEFT AND ROBBERY I37 

punished with death. Hence the text goes on to say of the thief that 
"if he be taken, he shall restore sevenfold . . . but he that is an 
adulterer . . . shall destroy his own soul." 

Reply Obj. 2. The punishments of this life are medicinal rather 
than retributive. For retribution is reserved to the divine judg- 
ment which is pronounced against sinners "according to truth." ^^ 
Wherefore, according to the judgment of the present life, the death 
punishment is inflicted, not for every mortal sin, but only for such 
as inflict an irreparable harm, or again for such as contain some 
horrible deformity. Hence, according to the present judgment, the 
pain of death is not inflicted for theft which does not inflict an 
irreparable harm, except when it is aggravated by some grave cir- 
cumstance, as in the case of sacrilege, which is the theft of a sacred 
thing, of peculation, which is theft of common property, as Augus- 
tine states,^* and of kidnapping, which is stealing a man, for which 
the pain of death is inflicted .^^ 

Reply Obj. 3. Reason accounts as nothing that which is little; so 
that a man does not consider himself injured in very little matters, 
and the person who takes such things can presume that this is not 
against the will of the owner. And if a person take suchlike very 
little things, he may be proportionately excused from mortal sin. 
Yet if his intention is to rob and injure his neighbor, there may be 
a mortal sin even in these very little things, even as there may be 
through consent in a mere thought. 



Seventh Article 

WHETHER IT IS LAWFUL TO STEAL THROUGH STRESS 

OF NEED? 

We proceed thus to the Seventh Article: 

Objection i. It would seem unlawful to steal through stress of 
need. For penance is not imposed except on one who has sinned. 
Now it is stated: "If anyone, through stress of hunger or naked- 
ness, steal food, clothing, or beast, he shall do penance for three 
weeks." ^® Therefore it is not lawful to steal through stress of 
need. 



138 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-II 

Obj. 2. Further, the Philosopher says that "there are some 
actions whose very name implies wickedness," ^"^ and among these 
he reckons theft. Now that which is wicked in itself may not be 
done for a good end. Therefore a man cannot lawfully steal in 
order to remedy a need. 

Obj. 3. Further, a man should love his neighbor as himself. 
Now, according to Augustine, it is unlawful to steal in order to suc- 
cor one's neighbor by giving him an alms.'^ Therefore neither is it 
lawful to steal in order to remedy one's own needs. 

On the contrary, In cases of need all things are common prop- 
erty, so that there would seem to be no sin in taking another's 
property, for need has made it common. 

/ answer that, Things which are of human right cannot derogate 
from natural right or divine right. Now, according to the natural 
order established by divine providence, inferior things are ordained 
for the purpose of succoring man's needs by their means. Where- 
fore the division and appropriation of things which are based on 
human law do not preclude the fact that man's needs have to be 
remedied by means of these very things. Hence whatever certain 
people have in superabundance is due, by natural law, to the pur- 
pose of succoring the poor. For this reason Ambrose says,^* and 
his words are embodied in the Decretals: "It is the hungry man's 
bread that you withhold, the naked man's cloak that you store 
away, the money that you bury in the earth is the price of the poor 
man's ransom and freedom." ^^ 

Since, however, there are many who are in need, while it is im- 
possible for all to be succored by means of the same thing, each one 
is entrusted with the stewardship of his own things, so that out of 
them he may come to the aid of those who are in need. Neverthe- 
less, if the need be so manifest and urgent that it is evident that the 
present need must be remedied by whatever means be at hand (for 
instance when a person is in some imminent danger, and there is 
no other possible remedy) , then it is lawful for a man to succor his 
own need by means of another's property, by taking it either openly 
or secretly; nor is this, properly speaking, theft or robbery. 

Reply Ob'], i. This decretal considers cases where there is no 
urgent need. 



OF THEFT AND ROBBERY 1 39 

Reply Ob'}. 2. It is not theft, properly speaking, to take secretly 
and use another's property in a case of extreme need ; because that 
which he takes for the support of his life becomes his own property 
by reason of that need. 

Reply Obj. 3. In a case of a like need a man may also take 
secretly another's property in order to succor his neighbor in need. 



Eighth Article 

WHETHER ROBBERY MAY BE COMMITTED WITHOUT 

SIN? 

We proceed thus to the Eighth Article: 

Objection 1 . It would seem that robbery may be committed with- 
out sin. For spoils are taken by violence, and this seems to belong 
to the essence of robbery, according to what has been said (A. 4). 
Now it is lawful to take spoils from the enemy; for Ambrose says: 
"When the conqueror has taken possession of the spoils, military 
discipline demands that all should be reserved for the sovereign," *^ 
in order, to wit, that he may distribute them. Therefore in certain 
cases robbery is lawful. 

Obj. 2. Further, it is lawful to take from a man what is not his. 
Now the things which unbelievers have are not theirs, for Augus- 
tine says: "You falsely call things your own, for you do not possess 
them justly, and according to the laws of earthly kings you are 
commanded to forfeit them." *^ Therefore it seems that one may 
lawfully rob unbelievers. 

Obj. 3. Further, earthly princes violently extort many things 
from their subjects, and this seems to savor of robbery. Now it 
would seem a grievous matter to say that they sin in acting thus, 
for in that case nearly every prince would be damned. Therefore 
in some cases robbery is lawful. 

On the contrary. Whatever is taken lawfully may be offered to 
God in sacrifice and oblation. Now this cannot be done with the 
proceeds of robbery, according to Isaias Ixi. 8: "I am the Lord that 
love judgment and hate robbery in a holocaust." Therefore it is 
not lawful to take anything by robbery. 



140 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

/ answer that, Robbery implies a certain violence and coercion 
employed in taking unjustly from a man that which is his. Now 
in human society no man can exercise coercion except through pub- 
lic authority ; and, consequently, if a private individual not having 
public authority takes another's property by violence, he acts 
unlawfully and commits a robbery, as burglars do. As regards 
princes, the public power is entrusted to them that they may be 
the guardians of justice; hence it is unlawful for them to use 
violence or coercion save within the bounds of justice — either by 
fighting against the enemy, or against the citizens by punishing 
evildoers: and whatever is taken by violence of this kind is not 
the spoils of robbery, since it is not contrary to justice. On the 
other hand, to take other people's property violently and against 
justice, in the exercise of public authority, is to act unlawfully and 
to be guilty of robbery; and whoever does so is bound to restitu- 
tion. 

Reply Obj. i. A distinction must be made in the matter of spoils. 
For if they who take spoils from the enemy are waging a just war, 
such things as they seize in the war become their own property. 
This is no robbery, so that they are not bound to restitution. 
Nevertheless even they who are engaged in a just war may sin in 
taking spoils through cupidity arising from an evil intention, if, to 
wit, they fight chiefly not for justice but for spoil. For Augustine 
says that "it is a sin to fight for booty." ^^ If, however, those who 
take the spoil are waging an unjust war, they are guilty of robbery 
and are bound to restitution. 

Reply Obj. 2 . Unbelievers possess their goods unjustly in so far 
as they are ordered by the laws of earthly princes to forfeit those 
goods. Hence these may be taken violently from them, not by 
private but by public authority. 

Reply Obj. 3. It is no robbery if princes exact from their sub- 
jects that which is due to them for the safeguarding of the com- 
mon good, even if they use violence in so doing; but if they extort 
something unduly by means of violence, it is robbery even as 
burglary is. Hence Augustine says: "If justice be disregarded 
what is a king but a mighty robber? since what is a robber but a 
little king?" ^ And it is written: "Her princes in the midst of her 



OF THEFT AND ROBBERY I4I 

are like wolves ravening the prey." *^ Wherefore they are bound 
to restitution^ just as robbers are, and by so much do they sin more 
grievously than robbers as their actions are fraught with greater 
and more universal danger to public justice, whose wardens they 
are. 



Ninth Article 

WHETHER THEFT IS A MORE GRIEVOUS SIN THAN 
ROBBERY? 

We proceed thus to the Ninth Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that theft is a more grievous sin 
than robbery. For theft adds fraud and guile to the taking of an- 
other's property, and these things are not found in robbery. Now 
fraud and guile are sinful in themselves, as stated above .^^ There- 
fore theft is a more grievous sin than robbery. 

Ob}. 2 . Further, shame is fear about a wicked deed, as stated in 
Ethics iv. 9. Now men are more ashamed of theft than of robbery. 
Therefore theft is more wicked than robbery. 

Obj. 3. Further, the more persons a sin injures the more grievous 
it would seem to be. Now the great and the lowly may be injured 
by theft, whereas only the weak can be injured by robbery, since 
it is possible to use violence toward them. Therefore the sin of 
theft seems to be more grievous than the sin of robbery. 

On the contrary, According to the laws robbery is more severely 
punished than theft. 

/ answer that, Robbery and theft are sinful, as stated above 
(AA. 4, 6), on account of the involuntariness on the part of the 
person from whom something is taken; yet so that in theft the 
involuntariness is due to ignorance, whereas in robbery it is due to 
violence. Now a thing is more involuntary through 'violence than 
through ignorance, because violence is more directly opposed to the 
will than ignorance. Therefore robbery is a more grievous sin than 
tbeft. There is also another reason, since robbery not only inflicts 
a loss on a person in his things, but also conduces to the ignominy 
and injury of his person, and this is of graver import than fraud 



142 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

or guile, which belong to theft. Hence the Reply to the First Objec- 
tion is evident. 

Reply Obj. 2. Men who adhere to sensible things think more of 
external strength which is evidenced in robbery than of internal 
virtue which is forfeit through sin, wherefore they are less ashamed 
of robbery than of theft. 

Reply Obj. 3. Although more persons may be injured by theft 
than by robbery, yet more grievous injuries may be inflicted by 
robbery than by theft, for which reason also robbery is more 
odious. 



QUESTION 77' 

OF CHEATING, WHICH IS COMMITTED IN BUYING 
AND SELLING 



First Article 

WHETHER IT IS LAWFUL TO SELL A THING FOR MORE 
THAN ITS WORTH? 

We proceed thus to the First Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that it is lawful to sell a thing for 
more than its worth. In the commutations of human life civil laws 
determine that which is just. Now according to these laws it is just 
for buyer and seller to deceive one another/ and this occurs by the 
seller selling a thing for more than its worth and the buyer buying 
a thing for less than its worth. Therefore it is lawful to sell a thing 
for more than its worth. 

Obj. 2 . Further, that which is common to all would seem to be 
natural and not sinful. Now Augustine relates that the saying of a 
certain jester was accepted by all, "You wish to buy for a song 
and to sell at a premium," ^* which agrees with the saying of Prov- 
erbs XX. 14: "It is naught, it is naught, saith every buyer; and 
when he is gone away, then he will boast." Therefore it is lawful 
to sell a thing for more than its worth. 

Obj. 3. Further, it does not seem unlawful if that which honesty 
demands be done by mutual agreement. Now, according to the 
Philosopher, in the friendship which is based on utility the amount 
of the recompense for a favor received should depend on the utility 
accruing to the receiver; ^ and this utility sometimes is worth more 
than the thing given, for instance if the receiver be in great need 
of that thing, whether for the purpose of avoiding a danger or of 
deriving some particular benefit. Therefore, in contracts of buying 

* [Q. 77 consists of four articles, of which only the first article is here re- 
printed.] 

143 



144 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

and selling, it is lawful to give a thing in return for more than its 
worth. 

On the contrary, It is written: "[In] all things . . . whatsoever 
you would that men should do to you, do you also to them." ^ But 
no man wishes to buy a thing for more than its worth. Therefore 
no man should sell a thing to another man for more than its worth. 

/ answer that, It is altogether sinful to have recourse to deceit 
in order to sell a thing for more than its just price, because this is 
to deceive one's neighbor so as to injure him. Hence Cicero says: 
"Contracts should be entirely free from double-dealing; the seller 
must not impose upon the bidder, nor the buyer upon one that bids 
against him." * 

But, apart from fraud, we may speak of buying and selling in 
two ways. First, as considered in themselves, and from this point 
of view buying and selling seem to be established for the common 
advantage of both parties, one of whom requires that which be- 
longs to the other, and vice versa, as the Philosopher states.^ Now 
whatever is established for the common advantage should not be 
more of a burden to one party than to another, and consequently 
all contracts between them should observe equality of thing and 
thing. Again, the [quantity] ** of a thing that comes into human use 
is measured by the price given for it, for which purpose money was 
invented, as stated in Ethics v. 5. Therefore if either the price 
exceed the quantity of the thing's worth, or, conversely, the thing 
exceed the price, there is no longer the equality of justice; and 
consequently, to sell a thing for more than its worth, or to buy it 
for less than its worth, is in itself unjust and unlawful. 

Secondly, we may speak of buying and selling considered as 
accidentally tending to the advantage of one party and to the dis- 
advantage of the other; for instance, when a man has great need 
of a certain tjiing, while another man will suffer if he be without it. 
In such a case the just price will depend not only on the thing 
sold, but on the loss which the sale brings on the seller. And thus 
it will be lawful to sell a thing for more than it is worth in itself, 
though the price paid be not more than it is worth to the owner. 
Yet if the one man derive a great advantage by becoming possessed 
*D.F. Tr.: quality. 



OF CHEATING 1 45 

of the other man's property and the seller be not at a loss through 
being without that thing, the latter ought not to raise the price, be- 
cause the advantage accruing to the buyer is not due to the seller, 
but to a circumstance affecting the buyer. Now no man should sell 
what is not his, though he may charge for the loss he suffers. 

On the other hand, if a man find that he derives great advantage 
from something he has bought, he maj^ of his own accord, pay the 
seller something over and above; and this pertains to his honesty. 

Reply Obj. i. As stated above (I-II, Q. 96, A. 2), human law is 
given to the people among whom there are many lacking virtue, 
and it is not given to the virtuous alone. Hence human law was 
unable to forbid all that is contrary to virtue ; and it suffices for it 
to prohibit whatever is destructive of human intercourse, while it 
treats other matters as though they were lawful, not by approving 
of them, but by not punishing them. Accordingly, if without em- 
ploying deceit the seller disposes of his goods for more than their 
worth, or the buyer obtains them for less than thek worth, the law 
looks upon this as licit and provides no punishment for so doing 
unless the excess be too great, because then even human law de- 
mands restitution to be made, for instance, if a man be deceived 
in regard of more than half the amount of the just price of a thing.® 

On the other hand the divine law leaves nothing unpunished 
that is contrary to virtue. Hence, according to the divine law, it is 
reckoned unlawful if the equality of justice be not observed in 
buying and selling; and he who has received more than he ought 
must make compensation to him that has suffered loss, if the loss 
be considerable. I add this condition, because the just price of 
things is not fixed with mathematical precision, but depends on a 
kind of estimate, so that a slight addition or subtraction would not 
seem to destroy the equality of justice. 

Reply Obj. 2. As Augustine says, "this jester, either by looking 
into himself or by his experience of others, thought that all men 
were inclined to wish to buy for a song and sell at a premium. But 
since in reality this is wicked, it is in every man's power to acquire 
that justice whereby he may resist and overcome this inclination." "^ 
And then he gives the example of a man who gave the just price for 
a book to a man who through ignorance asked a low price for it. 



146 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

Hence it is evident that this common desire is not from nature 
but from vice, wherefore it is common to many who walk along 
the broad road of sin. 

Reply Ob']. 3. In commutative justice we consider chiefly real 
equality. On the other hand, in friendship based on utility we con- 
sider equality of usefulness, so that the recompense should depend 
on the usefulness accruing, whereas in buying it should be equal 
to the thing bought. 



QUESTION 78 

OF THE SIN OF USURY 

(/« Four Articles) 

We must now consider the sin of usury, which is committed in 
loans; and under this head there are four points of inquiry: (i) 
Whether it is a sin to take money as a price for money lent, which 
is to receive usury? (2) Whether it is lawful to lend money for 
any other kind of consideration, by way of payment for the loan? 
(3) Whether a man is bound to restore just gains derived from 
money taken in usury? (4) Whether it is lawful to borrow money 
under a condition of usury? 

First Article 

WHETHER IT IS A SIN TO TAKE USURY FOR MONEY 

LENT? 

We proceed thus to the First Article: 

Objection i . It would seem that it is not a sin to take usury for 
money lent. For no man sins through following the example of 
Christ. But our Lord said of Himself: "At My coming I might 
have exacted it," i.e. the money lent, "with usury." ^ Therefore it 
is not a sin to take usury for lending money. 

Obj. 2. Further, according to Psalm xviii. 8, "The law of the 
Lord is unspotted," because, to wit, it forbids sin. Now usury of 
a kind is allowed in the divine law, according to Deuteronomy 
xxiii. 19-20, "Thou shalt not fenerate* to thy brother money, 
nor corn, nor any other thing, but to the stranger"; nay more, it 
is even promised as a reward for the observance of the Law, ac- 
cording to Deuteronomy xxviii. 1 2 : "Thou shalt fenerate to many 

f^ Faeneraberis : Thou shalt lend upon usury. The Douay version has simply 
'lend." The objection lays stress on the word faeneraberis ; hence the ne- 
cessity of rendering it by "fenerate." — D.F. 

147 



148 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

nations and shalt not borrow of any one." Therefore it is not a 
sin to take usury. 

Obj. 3. Further, in human affairs justice is determined by civil 
laws. Now civil law allows usury to be taken. Therefore it seems 
to be lawful. 

Obj. 4. Further, the counsels are not binding under sin. But, 
among other counsels we find: "Lend, hoping for nothing 
thereby." ^ Therefore it is not a sin to take usury. 

Obj. 5. Further, it does not seem to be in itself sinful to accept 
a price for doing what one is not bound to do. But one who has 
money is not bound in every case to lend it to his neighbor. There- 
fore it is lawful for him sometimes to accept a price for lending it. 

Obj. 6. Further, silver made into coins does not differ spe- 
cifically from silver made into vessels. But it is lawful to accept 
a price for the loan of a silver vessel. Therefore it is also lawful 
to accept a price for the loan of a silver coin. Therefore usury is 
not in itself a sin. 

Obj. 7. Further, anyone may lawfully accept a thing which its 
owner freely gives him. Now he who accepts the loan freely gives 
the usury. Therefore he who lends may lawfully take the usury. 

On the contrary, It is written: "If thou lend money to any of 
[my] '' people that is poor, that dwelleth with thee, thou shalt not 
be hard upon them as an extortioner, nor oppress them with 
usuries." * 

/ answer that, To take usury for money lent is unjust in it- 
self, because this is to sell what does not exist, and this evidently 
leads to inequality which is contrary to justice. 

In order to make this evident, we must observe that there are 
certain things the use of which consists in their consumption: 
thus we consume wine when we use it for drink, and we consume 
wheat when we use it for food. Wherefore in suchlike things the 
use of the thing must not be reckoned apart from the thing itself, 
and whoever is granted the use of the thing is granted the thing 
itself; and for this reason, to lend things of this kind is to trans- 
fer the ownership. Accordingly, if a man wanted to sell wine sep- 
arately from the use of the wine, he would be selling the same 
^D.F. Tr.: thy. 



OF THE SIN OF USURY 1 49 

thing twice, or he would be selling what does not exist, wherefore 
he would evidently commit a sin of injustice. In like manner he 
commits an injustice who lends wine or wheat and asks for double 
payment, viz. one, the return of the thing in equal measure, the 
other, the price of the use, which is called usury. 

On the other hand there are things the use of which does not 
consist in their consumption: thus to use a house is to dwell in it, 
not to destroy it. Wherefore in such things both may be granted; 
for instance, one man may hand over to another the ownership of 
his house while reserving to himself the use of it for a time, or 
vice versa, he may grant the use of the house while retaining the 
ownership. For this reason a man may lawfully make a charge for 
the use of his house and, besides this, revendicate the house from 
the person to whom he has granted its use, as happens in renting 
and letting a house. 

Now money, according to the Philosopher,^ was invented chiefly 
for the purpose of exchange, and consequently the proper and 
principal use of money is its consumption or alienation whereby it 
is sunk in exchange. Hence it is by its very nature unlawful to 
take payment for the use of money lent, which payment is known 
as usury; and just as a man is bound to restore other ill-gotten 
goods, so is he bound to restore the money which he has taken in 
usury. 

Reply Obj. i. In this passage usury must be taken figuratively 
for the increase of spiritual goods which God exacts from us, for 
He wishes us ever to advance in the goods which we receive from 
Him ; and this is for our own profit, not for His. 

Reply Obj. 2. The Jews were forbidden to take usury from 
their brethren, i.e, from other Jews. By this we are given to un- 
derstand that to take usury from any man is evil simply, because 
we ought to treat every man as our neighbor and brother, espe- 
cially in the state of the Gospel, whereto all are called. Hence it 
is said without any distinction in Psalm xiv. 5: "He that hath 
not put out his money to usury," and: ^ "Who hath not taken 
usury." "^ They were permitted, however, to take usury from for- 

<:Vulg.: If a man . . . hath not lent upon money, nor taken any inccease 
... he is just. 



ISO SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

eigners, not as though it were lawful, but in order to avoid a greater 
evil, lest, to wit, through avarice to which they were prone ac- 
cording to Isaias Ivi. ii, they should take usury from the Jews 
who were worshippers of God. 

Where we find it promised to them as a reward, "Thou shalt 
fenerate to many nations," etc., fenerating is to be taken in a 
broad sense for lending, as in Ecclesiasticus xxix. lo, where we 
read: "Many have refused to fenerate, not out of wickedness," 
i.e. they would not lend. Accordingly the Jews are promised in re- 
ward an abundance of wealth, so that they would be able to lend 
to others. 

Reply Ob']. 3. Human laws leave certain things unpunished, on 
account of the condition of those who are imperfect and who would 
be deprived of many advantages if all sins were strictly forbidden 
and punishments appointed for them. Wherefore human law has 
permitted usury, not that it looks upon usury as harmonizing with 
justice, but lest the advantage of many should be hindered. Hence 
it is that in civil law it is stated that "those things, according to 
natural reason and civil law, which are consumed by being used 
do not admit of usufruct," and that "the senate did not (nor could 
it) appoint a usufruct to such things, but established a quasi- 
usufruct," ^ namely, by permitting usury. Moreover the Philoso- 
pher, led by natural reason, says that "to make money by usury 
is exceedingly unnatural." "^ 

Reply Obj. 4. A man is not always bound to lend, and for this 
reason it is placed among the counsels. Yet it is a matter of pre- 
cept not to seek profit by lending, although it may be called a 
matter of counsel in comparison with the maxims of the Pharisees, 
who deemed some kinds of usury to be lawful, just as love of one's 
enemies is a matter of counsel. Or again. He speaks here not of 
the hope of usurious gain, but of the hope which is put in man. 
For we ought not to lend or do any good deed through hope in 
man, but only through hope in God. 

Reply Obj. 5. He that is not bound to lend may accept repay- 
ment for what he has done, but he must not exact more. Now he 
is repaid according to equality of justice if he is repaid as much 
as he has lent. Wherefore if he exacts more for the usufruct of a 



OP THE SIN OF USURY I5I 

thing which has no other use but the consumption of its substance, 
he exacts a price of something non-existent, and so his exaction 
is unjust. 

Reply Obj. 6. The principal use of a silver vessel is not its con- 
sumption, and so one may lawfully sell its use while retaining one's 
ownership of it. On the other hand the principal use of silver 
money is sinking it in exchange, so that it is not lawful to sell its 
use and at the same time expect the restitution of the amount lent. It 
must be observed, however, that the secondary use of silver ves- 
sels may be an exchange, and such use may not be lawfully sold. 
In like manner there may be some secondary use of silver money; 
for instance, a man might lend coins for show, or to be used as 
security [and the use of such money may lawfully be sold] . 

Reply Obj. 7. He who gives usury does not give it voluntarily 
simply, but under a certain necessity in so far as he needs to bor- 
row money which the owner is unwilling to lend without usury. 



Second Article 

WHETHER IT IS LAWFUL TO ASK FOR ANY OTHER KIND 
OF CONSIDERATION FOR MONEY LENT? 

We proceed thus to the Second Article: 

Objection i. It would seem that one may ask for some other 
kind of consideration for money lent. For everyone may lawfully 
seek to indemnify himself. Now sometimes a man suffers loss 
through lending money. Therefore he may lawfully ask for or 
even exact something else besides the money lent. 

Obj. 2. Further, as stated in Ethics v. 5, one is in duty bound 
by a point of honor to repay anyone who has done us a favor. 
Now to lend money to one who is in straits is to do him a favor 
for which he should be grateful. Therefore the recipient of a loan 
is bound by a natural debt to repay something. Now it does not 
seem unlawful to bind oneself to an obligation of the natural law. 
Therefore it is not unlawful, in lending money to anyone, to de- 
mand some sort of compensation as a condition of the loan. 

Obj. 3. Further, just as there is real remuneration, so is there 



152 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

verbal remuneration and remuneration by service, as a gloss says 
on Isaias xxxiii. 15, "Blessed is he that shaketh his hands from all 
bribes." ^ Now it is lawful to accept service or praise from one to 
whom one has lent money. Therefore in like manner it is lawful to 
accept any other kind of remuneration. 

Obj. 4. Further, seemingly the relation of gift to gift is the same 
as of loan to loan. But it is lawful to accept money for money 
given. Therefore it is lawful to accept repayment by loan in re- 
turn for a loan granted. 

Obj. 5. Further, the lender, by transferring his ownership of a 
sum of money, removes the money further from himself than he 
who entrusts it to a merchant or craftsman. Now it is lawful to 
receive interest for money entrusted to a merchant or craftsman. 
Therefore it is also lawful to receive interest for money lent. 

Obj. 6. Further, a man may accept a pledge for money lent, the 
use of which pledge he might sell for a price, as when a man mort- 
gages his land or the house wherein he dwells. Therefore it is law- 
ful to receive interest for money lent. 

Obj. 7. Further, it sometimes happens that a man raises the 
price of his goods under guise of loan, or buys another's goods at 
a low figure, or raises his price through delay in being paid, and 
lowers his price that he may be paid the sooner. Now in all these 
cases there seems to be payment for a loan of money, nor does it 
appear to be manifestly illicit. Therefore it seems to be lawful to 
expect or exact some consideration for money lent. 

On the contrary, Among other conditions requisite in a just man 
it is stated that he "hath not taken usury and increase." * 

/ answer that, According to the Philosopher, a thing is reckoned 
as money "if its value can be measured by money." ^ Conse- 
quently, just as it is a sin against justice to take money, by tacit 
or express agreement, in return for lending money or anything 
else that is consumed by being used, so also is it a like sin by tacit 
or express agreement to receive anything whose price can be meas- 
ured by money. Yet there would be no sin in receiving something 
of the kind, not as exacting it, nor yet as though it were due on 

*Vulg.: Which of you shall dwell with everlasting burnings? ... He that 
shaketh his hands from all bribes. 



OF THE SIN OF USURY 153 

account of some agreement tacit or expressed, but as a gratuity; 
since, even before lending the money, one could accept a gratuity, 
nor is one in a worse condition through lending. 

On the other hand, it is lawful to exact compensation for a loan 
in respect of such things as are not appreciated by a measure of 
money, for instance, benevolence, and love for the lender, and so 
forth. 

Reply Obj. i. A lender may without sin enter an agreement 
with the borrower for compensation for the loss he incurs of some- 
thing he ought to have, for this is not to sell the use of money but 
to avoid a loss. It may also happen that the borrower avoids a 
greater loss than the lender incurs, wherefore the borrower may 
repay the lender with what he has gained. But the lender cannot 
enter an agreement for compensation through the fact that he 
makes no profit out of his money; because he must not sell that 
which he has not yet and may be prevented in many ways from 
having. 

Reply Obj. 2. Repajnnent for a favor may be made in two ways. 
In one way, as a debt of justice; and to such a debt a man may be 
bound by a fixed contract, an4 its amount is measured according 
to the favor received. Wherefore the borrower of money or any 
such thing the use of which is its consumption is not bound to 
repay more than he received in loan ; and consequently it is against 
justice if he be obliged to pay back more. In another way a man's 
obligation to repayment for favor received is based on a debt of 
friendship, and the nature of this debt depends more on the feeling 
with which the favor was conferred than on the greatness of the 
favor itself. This debt does not carry with it a civil obligation in- 
volving a kind of necessity that would exclude the spontaneous 
nature of such a repayment. 

Reply Obj. 3. If a man were, in return for money lent, as though 
there had been an agreement tacit or expressed, to expect or exact 
repayment in the shape of some remuneration of service or words, 
it would be the same as if he expected or exacted some real remu- 
neration, because both can be priced at a money value, as may be 
seen in the case of those who offer for hire the labor which they 
exercise by work or by tongue. If on the other hand the remunera- 



154 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

tion by service or words be given, not as an obligation, but as a 
favor which is not to be appreciated at a money value, it is lawful 
to take, exact, and expect it. 

Reply Obj. 4. Money cannot be sold for a greater sum than the 
amount lent, which has to be paid back; nor should the loan be 
made with a demand or expectation of aught else but of a feeling 
of benevolence, which cannot be priced at a pecuniary value, and 
which can be the basis of a spontaneous loan. Now the obligation 
to lend in return at some future time is repugnant to such a feel- 
ing, because again an obligation of this kind has its pecuniary val- 
ue. Consequently it is lawful for the lender to borrow something 
else at the same time, but it is unlawful for him to bind the bor- 
rower to grant him a loan at some future time. 

Reply Obj. 5. He who lends money transfers the ownership of 
the money to the borrower. Hence the borrower holds the money 
at his own risk and is bound to pay it all back; wherefore the 
lender must not exact more. On the other hand, he that entrusts 
his money to a merchant or craftsman so as to form a kind of so- 
ciety does not transfer the ownership of his money to them, for it 
remains his, so that at his risk the merchant speculates with it, or 
the craftsman uses it for his craft, and consequently he may lawfully 
demand, as something belonging to him, part of the profits de- 
rived from his money. 

Reply Obj. 6. If a man in return for money lent to him pledges 
something that can be valued at a price, the lender must allow for 
the use of that thing toward the repayment of the loan. Else if he 
wishes the gratuitous use of that thing in addition to repayment, 
it is the same as if he took money for lending, and that is usury; 
unless perhaps it were such a thing as friends are wont to lend to 
one another gratis, as in the case of the loan of a book. 

Reply Obj. 7. If a man wish to sell his goods at a higher price 
than that which is just, so that he may wait for the buyer to pay, 
it is manifestly a case of usury; because this waiting for the pay- 
ment of the price has the character of a loan, so that whatever he 
demands beyond the just price in consideration of this delay is 
like a price for a loan, which pertains to usury. In like manner if 
a buyer wishes to buy goods at a lower price than what is just, for 



OF THE SIN OF USURY 1 55 

the reason that he pays for the goods before they can be deliv- 
ered, it is a sin of usury; because again this anticipated payment 
of money has the character of a loan, the price of which is the re- 
bate on the just price of the goods sold. On the other hand, if a 
man wishes to allow a rebate on the just price in order that he may 
have his money sooner, he is not guilty of the sin of usury. 



Third Article 

WHETHER A MAN IS BOUND TO RESTORE WHATEVER 

PROFITS HE HAS MADE OUT OF MONEY GOTTEN 

BY USURY? 

We proceed thtis to the Third Article: 

Objection i . It would seem that a man is bound to restore what- 
ever profits he has made out of money gotten by usury. For the 
Apostle says: "If the root be holy, so are the branches." ^® There- 
fore, likewise, if the root be rotten, so are the branches. But the 
root was infected with usury. Therefore whatever profit is made 
therefrom is infected with usury. Therefore he is bound to re- 
store it. 

Obj. 2. Further, it is laid down: "Property accruing from usury 
must be sold, and the price repaid to the persons from whom the 
usury Wcis extorted." ^^ Therefore, likewise, whatever else is ac- 
quired from usurious money must be restored. 

Obj. 3. Further, that which a man buys with the proceeds of 
usury is due to him by reason of the money he paid for it. There- 
fore he has no more right to the thing purchased than to the money 
he paid. But he was bound to restore the money gained through 
usury. Therefore he is also bound to restore what he acquired 
with it. 

On the contrary, A man may lawfully hold what he has lawfully 
acquired. Now that which is acquired by the proceeds of usury is 
sometimes lawfully acquired. Therefore it may be lawfully re- 
tained. 

/ answer that, As stated above (A. i), there are certain things 
whose use is their consumption, and which do not admit of usu- 



156 SUMMA THEOLOGICA H-II 

fruct according to law (ibid., ad ^). Wherefore if suchlike things 
be extorted by means of usury, for instance, money, wheat, wine, 
and so forth, the lender is not bound to restore more than he re- 
ceived (since what is acquired by such things is the fruit not of 
the thing but of human industry), unless indeed the other party 
by losing some of his own goods be injured through the lender re- 
taining them, for then he is bound to make good the loss. 

On the other hand, there are certain things whose use is not 
their consumption; such things admit of usufruct, for instance 
house or land property, and so forth. Wherefore if a man has by 
usury extorted from another his house or land, he is bound to re- 
store not only the house or land but also the fruits accruing to 
him therefrom, since they are the fruits of things owned by an- 
other man and consequently are due to him. 

Reply Obj. i . The root has not only the character of matter, as 
money made by usury has, but has also somewhat the character 
of an active cause in so far as it adminsters nourishment. Hence 
the comparison fails. 

Reply Obj. 2. Further, property acquired from usury does not 
belong to the person who paid usury, but to the person who bought 
it. Yet he that paid usury has a certain claim on that property just 
as he has on the other goods of the usurer. Hence it is not pre- 
scribed that such property should be assigned to the persons who 
paid usury, since the property is perhaps worth more than what 
they paid in usury, but it is commanded that the property be sold 
and the price be restored, of course according to the amount taken 
in usury. 

Reply Obj. 3. The proceeds of money taken in usury are due 
to the person who acquired them, not by reason of the usurious 
money as instrumental cause, but on account of his own industry 
as principal cause. Wherefore he has more right to the goods ac- 
quired with usurious money than to the usurious money itself. 



OF THE SIN OF USURY 157 



Fourth Article 



WHETHER IT IS LAWFUL TO BORROW MONEY UNDER 
A CONDITION OF USURY? 

We proceed thus to the Fourth Article: 

Objection 1 . It would seem that it is not lawful to borrow money 
under a condition of usury. For the Apostle says that they "are 
worthy of death . . . not only they that do" these sins, "but 
they also that consent to them that do them." ^^ Now he that bor- 
rows money under a condition of usury consents in the sin of the 
usurer and gives him an occasion of sin. Therefore he sins also. 

Obj. 2. Further, for no temporal advantage ought one to give 
another an occasion of committing a sin, for this pertains to active 
scandal, which is always sinful, as stated above.^^ Now he that 
seeks to borrow from a usurer gives him an occasion of sin. There- 
fore he is not to be excused on account of any temporal advantage. 

Obj. 3. Further, it seems no less necessary sometimes to deposit 
one's money with a usurer than to borrow from him. Now it seems 
altogether unlawful to deposit one's money with a usurer, even as 
it would be unlawful to deposit one's sword with a madman, a 
maiden with a libertine, or food with a glutton. Neither therefore 
is it lawful to borrow from a usurer. 

On the contrary, He that suffers injury does not sin, according 
to the Philosopher,^^ wherefore justice is not a mean between two 
vices, as stated in the same book.^^ Now a usurer sins by doing an 
injury to the person who borrows from him under a condition of 
usury. Therefore he that accepts a loan under a condition of usury 
does not sin. 

/ answer that, It is by no means lawful to induce a man to sin, 
yet it is lawful to make use of another's sin for a good end, since 
even God uses all sin for some good since He draws some good 
from every evil, as stated in the Enchiridion (xi).* Hence when 
Publicola asked whether it were lawful to make use of an oath 
taken by a man swearing by false gods (which is a manifest sin, 
for he gives divine honor to them), Augustine answered that he 
« [St. Augustine.] 



IS8 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-II 

who uses, not for a bad but for a good purpose, the oath of a man 
that swears by false gods is a party, not to his sin of swearing by 
demons, but to his good compact whereby he kept his word. ^* If 
however he were to induce him to swear by false gods, he would sin. 

Accordingly we must also answer to the question in point that 
it is by no means lawful to induce a man to lend under a condi- 
tion of usury ; yet it is lawful to borrow for usury from a man who 
is ready to do so and is a usurer by profession, provided the bor- 
rower have a good end in view, such as the relief of his own or 
another's need. Thus, too, it is lawful for a man who has fallen 
among thieves to point out his property to them (which they sin 
in taking) in order to save his life, after the example of the ten 
men who said to Ismahel: "Kill us not; for we have stores in 
the field." ^^ 

Reply Obj. i . He who borrows for usury does not consent to the 
usurer's sin but makes use of it. Nor is it the usurer's acceptance of 
usury that pleases him, but his lending, which is good. 

Reply Obj. 2. He who borrows for usury gives the usurer an 
occasion, not for taking usury, but for lending; it is the usurer 
who finds an occasion of sin in the malice of his heart. Hence there 
is passive scandal on his part, while there is no active scandal on 
the part of the person who seeks to borrow. Nor is this passive scan- 
dal a reason why the other person should desist from borrowing if he 
is in need, since this passive scandal arises not from weakness or 
ignorance but from malice. 

Reply Obj. 3. If one were to entrust one's money to a usurer 
lacking other means of practicing usury, or [with the intention of 
affording the usurer the possibility of making greater profits by 
his usury],' one would be giving a sinner matter for sin, so that 
one would be a participator in his guilt. If, on the other hand, the 
usurer to whom one entrusts one's money has other means of prac- 
ticing usury, there is no sin in entrusting it to him that it may be 
in safer keeping, since this is to use a sinner for a good purpose. 

* D.F. Tr.: with the intention of making a greater profit from his money by 
reason of the usury. 



QUESTION 104 

OF OBEDIENCE 
(/n Six Articles) 

We must now consider obedience, under which head there are six 
points of inquiry: (i) Whether one man is bound to obey another? 
(2) Whether obedience is a special virtue? (3) Of its comparison 
with other virtues? (4) Whether God must be obeyed in all things? 
(5) Whether subjects are bound to obey their superiors in all 
things? (6) Whether the faithful are bound to obey the secular 
power? 



First Article 
WHETHER ONE MAN IS BOUND TO OBEY ANOTHER? 

We proceed thus to the First Article: 

Objection 1. It seems that one man is not bound to obey an- 
other. For nothing should be done contrary to the divine ordinance. 
Now God has so ordered that man is ruled by his own counsel, 
according to Ecclesiasticus xv. 14: "God made man from the begin- 
ning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel." Therefore one 
man is not bound to obey another. 

Obj. 2. Further, if one man were bound to obey another, he 
would have to look upon the will of the person commanding him 
as being his rule of conduct. Now God's will alone, which is always 
right, is a rule of human conduct. Therefore man is bound to obey 
none but God. 

Obj. 3. Further, the more gratuitous the service the more is it 
acceptable. Now what a man does out of duty is not gratuitous. 
Therefore if a man were bound in duty to obey others in doing 
good deeds, for this very reason his good deeds would be rendered 
less acceptable through being done out of obedience. Therefore one 
man is not bound to obey another. 

IS9 



l60 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

On the contrary, It is prescribed: "Obey your prelates and be 
subject to them." ^ 

/ answer that, Just as the actions of natural things proceed from 
natural powers, so do human actions proceed from the human will. 
In natural things it behooved the higher to move the lower to their 
actions by the excellence of the natural power bestowed on them 
by God; and so in human affairs also the higher must move the 
lower by their will in virtue of a divinely established authority. 
Now to move by reason and will is to command. Wherefore just 
as in virtue of the divinely established natural order the lower 
natural things need to be subject to the movement of the higher, 
so too in human affairs, in virtue of the order of natural and divine 
law, inferiors are bound to obey their superiors. 

Reply Obj. i . God left man in the hand of his own counsel, not 
as though it were lawful to him to do whatever he will, but be- 
cause, unlike irrational creatures, he is not compelled by natural 
necessity to do what he ought to do but is left the free choice pro- 
ceeding from his own counsel. And just as he has to proceed on 
his own counsel in doing other things, so too has he in the point 
of obeying his superiors. For Gregory says: "When we humbly 
give way to another's voice, we overcome ourselves in our own 
hearts." ^ 

Reply Obj, 2. The will of God is the first rule whereby all 
rational wills are regulated; and to this rule one will approaches 
more than another, according to a divinely appointed order. Hence 
the will of the one man who issues a command may be as a second 
rule to the will of this other man who obeys him. 

Reply Obj. 3. A thing may be deemed gratuitous in two ways. 
In one way on the part of the deed itself, because, to wit, one is 
not bound to do it; in another way on the part of the doer, because 
he does it of his own free will. Now a deed is rendered virtuous, 
praiseworthy, and meritorious chiefly according as it proceeds from 
the will. Wherefore although obedience be a duty, if one obey with 
a prompt will one's merit is not for that reason diminished, espe- 
cially before God, Who sees not only the outward deed but also 
the inward will. 



OF OBEDIENCE l6l 

Second Article 
WHETHER OBEDIENCE IS A SPECIAL VIRTUE? 

We proceed thus to the Second Article: 

Objection i. It seems that obedience is not a special virtue. For 
disobedience is contrary to obedience. But disobedience is a gen- 
eral sin, because Ambrose says that "to sin is to disobey the divine 
law." ^ Therefore obedience is not a special virtue. 

Obj. 2. Further, every special virtue is either theological or 
moral. But obedience is not a theological virtue, since it is not 
comprised under faith, hope, or charity. Nor is it a moral virtue, 
since it does not hold the mean between excess and deficiency, 
for the more obedient one is, the more is one praised. Therefore 
obedience is not a special virtue. 

Ob']. 3. Further, Gregory says that "obedience is the more meri- 
torious and praiseworthy the less it holds its own." ^ But every spe- 
cial virtue is the more to be praised the more it holds its own, since 
virtue requires a man to exercise his will and choice, as stated in 
Ethics ii. 4. Therefore obedience is not a special virtue. 

Obj. 4. Further, virtues differ in species according to their ob- 
jects. Now the object of obedience would seem to be the command 
of a superior, of which, apparently, there are as many kinds as 
there are degrees of superiority. Therefore obedience is a general 
virtue, comprising many special virtues. 

On the contrary, Obedience is reckoned by some to be a part of 
justice, as stated above.^ 

/ answer that, A special virtue is assigned to all good deeds 
that have a special reason of praise; for it belongs properly to 
virtue to render a deed good. Now obedience to a superior is due 
in accordance with the divinely established order of things, as 
shown above (A. i), and therefore it is a good, since good con- 
sists in mode, species, and order, as Augustine states.® Again, this 
act has a special aspect of praiseworthiness by reason of its object. 
For while subjects have many obligations toward their superiors, 
this one, that they are bound to obey their commands, stands out 
as special among the rest. Wherefore obedience is a special virtue, 



1 62 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

and its specific object is a command tacit or express; because the 
superior's will, however it become known, is a tacit precept, and 
a man's obedience seems to be all the more prompt forasmuch as 
by obeying he forestalls the express command as soon as he under- 
stands his superior's will. 

Reply Obj. i. Nothing prevents the one same material object 
from admitting two special aspects to which two special virtues 
correspond: thus a soldier, by defending his king's fortress, fulfills 
both an act of fortitude, by facing the danger of death for a good 
end, and an act of justice, by rendering due service to his lord. 
Accordingly the aspect of precept, which obedience considers, oc- 
curs in acts of all virtues, but not in all acts of virtue, since not all 
acts of virtue are a matter of precept, as stated above.'^ More- 
over certain things are sometimes a matter of precept and pertain 
to no other virtue, such things, for instance, as are not evil except 
because they are forbidden. Wherefore if obedience be taken in its 
proper sense as considering formally and intentionally the aspect 
of precept, it will be a special virtue and disobedience a special sin; 
because in this way it is requisite for obedience that one perform 
an act of justice or of some other virtue with the intention of ful- 
filling a precept, and for disobedience that one treat the precept 
with actual contempt. On the other hand if obedience be taken in 
a wide sense for the performance of any action that may be a mat- 
ter of precept, and disobedience for the omission of that action 
through any intention whatever, then obedience will be a general 
virtue, and disobedience a general sin. 

Reply Obj. 2. Obedience is not a theological virtue, for its di- 
rect object is not God but the precept of any superior, whether ex- 
pressed or inferred, namely, a simple word of the superior indi- 
cating his will, and which the obedient subject obeys promptly, 
according to Titus iii. i : "Admonish them to be subject to princes 
and to obey at a word," etc. 

It is, however, a moral virtue, since it is a part of justice, and it 
observes the mean between excess and deficiency. Excess thereof 
is measured in respect, not of quantity, but of other circumstances, 
in so far as a man obeys either whom he ought not or in matters 
wherein he ought not to obey, as we have stated above regarding 



OF OBEDIENCE 1 63 

religion.^ We may also reply that as in justice excess is in the per- 
son who retains another's property and deficiency in the person 
who does not receive his due, according to the Philosopher; ^ so 
too obedience observes the mean between excess on the part of 
him who fails to pay due obedience to his superior, since he ex- 
ceeds in fulfilling his own will, and deficiency on the part of the 
superior, who does not receive obedience. Wherefore in this way 
obedience will be a mean between two forms of wickedness, as was 
stated above concerning justice (Q. 58, A. 10). 

Reply Obj. 3. Obedience, like every virtue, requires the will to 
be prompt toward its proper object, but not toward that which is 
repugnant to it. Now the proper object of obedience is a precept, 
and this proceeds from another's will. Wherefore obedience makes 
a man's will prompt in fulfilling the will of another, the maker, 
namely, of the precept. If that which is prescribed to him is willed 
by him for its own sake apart from its being prescribed, as hap- 
pens in agreeable matters, he tends toward it at once by his own 
will and seems to comply, not on account of the precept, but on 
account of his own will. But if that which is prescribed is nowise 
willed for its own sake, but considered in itself is repugnant to his 
own will, as happens in disagreeable matters, then it is quite evi- 
dent that it is not fulfilled except on account of the precept. Hence 
Gregory says that "obedience perishes or diminishes when it holds 
its own in agreeable matters," ^^ because, to wit, one's own will 
seems to tend principally, not to the accomplishment of the pre- 
cept, but to the fulfillment of one's own desire; but that "it in- 
creases in disagreeable or difficult matters," because there one's 
own will tends to nothing beside the precept. Yet this must be 
understood as regards outward appearances ; for on the other hand, 
according to the judgment of God, Who searches the heart, it may 
happen that even in agreeable matters obedience, while holding its 
own, is none the less praiseworthy, provided the will of him that 
obeys tend no less devotedly ^^ to the fulfillment of the precept. 

Reply Obj. 4. Reverence regards directly the person that excels; 
wherefore it admits of various species according to the various as- 
pects of excellence. Obedience on the other hand regards the precept 
of the person that excels and therefore admits of only one aspect. 



1 64 SUMMA THEOLOGICA n-n 

And since obedience is due to a person's precept on account of rev- 
erence to him, it follows that obedience to a man is of one species, 
though the causes from which it proceeds differ specifically. 



Third Article 

WHETHER OBEDIENCE IS THE GREATEST 
OF THE VIRTUES? 

We proceed thus to the Third Article: 

Objection i. It seems that obedience is the greatest of the vir- 
tues. For it is written: "Obedience is better than sacrifices." *^ 
Now the offering of sacrifices belongs to religion, which is the great- 
est of all moral virtues, as shown above.^^ Therefore obedience is 
the greatest of all virtues. 

Ob'j. 2 . Further, Gregory says that "obedience is the only virtue 
that ingrafts virtues in the soul and protects them when in- 
grafted." ^* Now the cause is greater than the effect. Therefore 
obedience is greater than all the virtues. 

Ob'j. 3. Further, Gregory says that "evil should never be done 
out of obedience ; yet sometimes for the sake of obedience we should 
lay aside the good we are doing." '^^ Now one does not lay aside a 
thing except for something better. Therefore obedience, for whose 
sake the good of other virtues is set aside, is better than other 
virtues. 

On the contrary, Obedience deserves praise because it proceeds 
from charity; for Gregory says that "obedience should be prac- 
ticed, not out of servile fear, but from a sense of charity, not 
through fear of punishment, but through love of justice." ^* There- 
fore charity is a greater virtue than obedience. 

/ answer that, Just as sin consists in man contemning God and 
adhering to mutable things, so the merit of a virtuous act consists 
in man contemning created goods and adhering to God as his end. 
Now the end is greater than that which is directed to the end. 
Therefore if a man contemns created goods in order that he may 
adhere to God, his virtue derives greater praise from his adhering 
to God than from his contemning earthly things. And so those, 



OF OBEDIENCE 1 65 

namely, the theological, virtues whereby he adheres to God in Him- 
self are greater than the moral virtues whereby he holds in contempt 
some earthly thing in order to adhere to God. 

Among the moral virtues, the greater the thing which a man 
contemns that he may adhere to God, the greater the virtue. Now 
there are three kinds of human goods that man may contemn for 
God's sake. The lowest of these are external goods, the goods of the 
body take the middle place, and the highest are the goods of the 
soul; and among these the chief, in a way, is the will, in so far as 
by his will man makes use of all other goods. Therefore, properly 
speaking, the virtue of obedience, whereby we contemn our own 
will for God's sake, is more praiseworthy than the other moral vir- 
tues, which contemn other goods for the sake of God. 

Hence Gregory says that "obedience is rightly preferred to sac- 
rifices, because by sacrifices another's body is slain, whereas by 
obedience we slay our own will." ^"^ Wherefore even any other acts 
of virtue are meritorious before God through being performed out 
of obedience to God's will. For were one to suffer even martyrdom 
or to give all one's goods to the poor, unless one directed these 
things to the fulfillment of the divine will, which pertains directly 
to obedience, they could not be meritorious; as neither would they 
be if they were done without charity, which cannot exist apart 
from obedience. For it is written: "He who saith that he knoweth 
God, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar . . . but he 
that keepeth His word, in him in very deed the charity of God is 
perfected": ^^ and this because friends have the same likes and 
dislikes. 

Reply Obj. i. Obedience proceeds from reverence, which pays 
worship and honor to a superior, and in this respect it is contained 
under different virtues, although considered in itself as regarding 
the aspect of precept, it is one special virtue. Accordingly in so 
far as it proceeds from reverence for a superior, it is contained, in 
a way, under observance ; while in so far as it proceeds from rever- 
ence for one's parents, it is contained under piety; and in so far as 
it proceeds from reverence for God, it comes under religion and 
pertains to devotion, which is the principal act of religion. Where- 
fore from this point of view it is more praiseworthy to obey God 



1 66 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

than to offer sacrifice, as well as because "in a sacrifice we slay an- 
other's body, whereas by obedience we slay our own will," as 
Gregory says.^® As to the special case in which Samuel spoke, it 
would have been better for Saul to obey God than to offer in sac- 
rifice the fat animals of the Amalekites against the commandment 
of God. 

Reply Obj. 2. All acts of virtue, in so far as they come under a 
precept, belong to obedience. Wherefore according as acts of virtue 
act causally or dispositively toward their generation and preserva- 
tion, obedience is said to ingraft and protect all virtues. And yet it 
does not follow that obedience takes precedence of all virtues abso- 
lutely, for two reasons. First, because though an act of virtue come 
under a precept one may nevertheless perform that act of virtue 
without considering the aspect of precept. Consequently if there 
be any virtue whose object is naturally prior to the precept, that 
virtue is said to be naturally prior to obedience. Such a virtue is 
faith, whereby we come to know the sublime nature of divine 
authority, by reason of which the power to command is competent 
to God. Secondly, because infusion of grace and virtues may pre- 
cede, even in point of time, all virtuous acts; and in this way 
obedience is not prior to all virtues, neither in point of time nor by 
nature. 

Reply Obj. 3. There are two kinds of good. There is that to 
which we are bound of necessity, for instance, to love God, and 
so forth; and by no means may such a good be set aside on ac- 
count of obedience. But there is another good to which man is not 
bound of necessity ; and this good we ought sometimes to set aside 
for the sake of obedience to which we are bound of necessity, since 
we ought not to do good by falling into sin. Yet as Gregory re- 
marks, "he who forbids his subjects any single good must needs 
allow them many others, lest the souls of those who obey perish 
utterly from starvation through being deprived of every good." ^® 
Thus the loss of one good may be compensated by obedience and 
other goods. 



of obedience 1 67 

Fourth Article 
WHETHER GOD OUGHT TO BE OBEYED IN ALL THINGS? 

We proceed thus to the Fourth Article: 

Objection i . It seems that God need not be obeyed in all things. 
For it is written that Our Lord after healing the two blind men 
commanded them, saying: " 'See that no man know this.' But they 
going out spread His fame abroad in all that country." ^^ Yet they 
are not blamed for so doing. Therefore it seems that we are not 
bound to obey God in all things. 

Obj. 2. Further, no one is bound to do anything contrary to 
virtue. Now we find that God commanded certain things contrary 
to virtue: thus He commanded Abraham to slay his innocent son,^^ 
and the Jews to steal the property of the Egyptians,^^ which things 
are contrary to justice; and Osee to take to himself a woman who 
was an adulteress,^* and this is contrary to chastity. Therefore God 
is not to be obeyed in all things. 

Obj. 3. Further, whoever obeys God conforms his will to the 
divine will even as to the thing willed. But we are not bound in 
all things to conform our will to the divine will as to the thing 
willed, as stated above.^^ Therefore man is not bound to obey God 
in all things. 

On the contrary, It is written: "All things that the Lord hath 
spoken we will do, and we will be obedient." ^® 

/ answer that, As stated above (A. i), he who obeys is moved 
by the command of the person he obeys, just as natural things are 
moved by their motive causes. Now just as God is the first mover 
of all things that are moved naturally, so too is He the first mover 
of all wills, as shown above.^^ Therefore just as all natural things 
are subject to the divine motion by a natural necessity, so too all 
wills, by a kind of necessity of justice, are bound to obey the 
divine command. 

Reply Obj. i. Our Lord in telling the blind men to conceal the 
miracle had no intention of binding them with the force of a divine 
precept, but, as Gregory says, "gave an example to His servants 
who follow Him, that they might wish to hide their virtue and yet 



1 68 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

that it should be proclaimed against their will, in order that others 
might profit by their example." ^^ 

Reply Obj. 2. Even as God does nothing contrary to nature 
(since "the nature of a thing is what God does therein," according 
to a gloss on Romans xi) and yet does certain things contrary to 
the wonted course of nature, so too God can command nothing con- 
trary to virtue, since virtue and rectitude of human will consist 
chiefly in conformity with God's will and obedience to His com- 
mand, although it be contrary to the wonted mode of virtue. Ac- 
cordingly, then, the command given to Abraham to slay his inno- 
cent son was not contrary to justice, since God is the author of life 
and death. Nor again was it contrary to justice that He commanded 
the Jews to take things belonging to the Egyptians, because all 
things are His, and He gives them to whom He will. Nor was it 
contrary to chastity that Osee was commanded to take an adulter- 
ess, because God Himself is the ordainer of human generation, and 
the right manner of intercourse with woman is that which He 
appoints. Hence it is evident that the persons aforesaid did not 
sin, neither by obeying God nor by willing to obey Him. 

Reply Obj. 3. Though man is not always bound to will what 
God wills, yet he is always bound to will what God wills him to 
will. This comes to man's knowledge chiefly through God's com- 
mand, wherefore man is bound to obey God's commands in all 
things. 



Fifth Article 

WHETHER SUBJECTS ARE BOUND TO OBEY THEIR 
SUPERIORS IN ALL THINGS? 

We proceed thus to the Fifth Article: 

Objection i. It seems that subjects are bound to obey their 
superiors in all things. For the Apostle says: "Children, obey your 
parents in all things"; and farther on: "Servants, obey in all things 
your masters according to the flesh." ^ Therefore in like manner 
other subjects are bound to obey their superiors in all things. 

Obj. 2. Further, superiors stand between God and their subjects, 



OF OBEDIENCE 1 69 

according to Deuteronomy v, 5: "I was the mediator and stood 
between the Lord and you at that time, to show you His words." 
Now there is no going from extreme to extreme, except through 
that which stands between. Therefore the commands of a superior 
must be esteemed the commands of God, wherefore the Apostle 
says: "You . . . received me as an angel of God, even as Christ 
Jesus"; ^^ and: "When you had received of us the word of the 
hearing of God, you received it, not as the word of men, but, as it 
is indeed, the word of God." ^^ Therefore as man is bound to obey 
God in all things, so is he bound to obey his superiors. 

Obj. 3 . Further, just as religious in making their profession take 
vows of chastity and poverty, so do they also vow obedience. 
Now a religious is bound to observe chastity and poverty in all 
things. Therefore he is also bound to obey in all things. 

On the contrary, It is written: "We ought to obey God rather 
than men." ^^ Now sometimes the things commanded by a superior 
are against God. Therefore superiors are not to be obeyed in all 
things. 

/ answer that, As stated above ( AA, i , 4) , he who obeys is moved 
at the bidding of the person who commands him by a certain 
necessity of justice, even as a natural thing is moved through the 
power of its mover by a natural necessity. That a natural thing 
be not moved by its mover may happen in two ways. First on ac- 
count of a hindrance arising from the stronger power of some other 
mover ; thus wood is not burned by fire if a stronger force of water 
intervene. Secondly, through lack of order in the movable with 
regard to its mover, since, though it is subject to the latter's action 
in one respect, yet it is not subject thereto in every respect. Thus 
a humor is sometimes subject to the action of heat as regards being 
heated, but not as regards being dried up or consumed. In like 
manner there are two reasons for which a subject may not be 
bound to obey his superior in all things. First on account of the 
command of a higher power. For as a gloss says on Romans xiii. 2, 
"They that resist ^ the power, resist the ordinance of God.^^ If a 
commissioner issue an order, are you to comply if it is contrary to 
the bidding of the proconsul? Again if the proconsul command one 
a Vulg.: He that resisteth. 



lyo SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

thing and the emperor another, will you hesitate to disregard the 
former and serve the latter? Therefore if the emperor commands 
one thing and God another, you must disregard the former and obey 
God." Secondly, a subject is not bound to obey his superior if the 
latter command him to do something wherein he is not subject to 
him. For Seneca says: ''It is wrong to suppose that slavery falls 
upon the whole man; for the better part of him is excepted. His 
body is subjected and assigned to his master, but his soul is his 
own." ^^ Consequently in matters touching the internal movement 
of the will man is not bound to obey his fellow man, but God alone. 

Nevertheless man is bound to obey his fellow man in things that 
have to be done externally by means of the body; and yet, since 
by nature all men are equal, he is not bound to obey another man in 
matters touching the nature of the body, for instance, in those re- 
lating to the support of his body or the begetting of his children. 
Wherefore servants are not bound to obey their masters, nor chil- 
dren their parents, in the question of contracting marriage or of 
remaining in the state of virginity or the like. But in matters con- 
cerning the disposal of actions and human affairs a subject is bound 
to obey his superior within the sphere of his authority; for in- 
stance, a soldier must obey his general in matters relating to war, 
a servant his master in matters touching the execution of the duties 
of his service, a son his father in matters relating to the conduct of 
his life and the care of the household, and so forth. 

Reply Ob}, i. When the Apostle says "in all things," he refers 
to matters within the sphere of a father's or master's authority. 

Reply Obj. 2 . Man is subject to God simply as regards all things, 
both internal and external, wherefore he is bound to obey Him 
in all things. On the other hand inferiors are not subject to their 
superiors in all things, but only in certain things and in a particular 
way, in respect of which the superior stands between God and his 
subjects; whereas in respect of other matters the subject is imme- 
diately under God, by Whom he is taught either by the natural or 
by the written law. 

Reply Obj. 3. Religious profess obedience as to the regular mode 
of life, in respect of which they are subject to their superiors; 
wherefore they are bound to obey in those matters only which may 



OF OBEDIENCE I7I 

belong to the regular mode of life, and this obedience suffices for 
salvation. If they be willing to obey even in other matters, this will 
belong to the superabundance of perfection, provided, however, 
such things be not contrary to God or to the rule they profess, for 
obedience in this case would be unlawful. 

Accordingly we may distinguish a threefold obedience: one, suf- 
ficient for salvation and consisting in obeying when one is bound 
to obey; secondly, perfect obedience, which obeys in all things 
lawful; thirdly, indiscreet obedience, which obeys even in matters 
unlawful. 



Sixth Article 

WHETHER CHRISTIANS ARE BOUND TO OBEY 
THE SECULAR POWER? 

We proceed thus to the Sixth Article: 

Objection i. It seems that Christians are not bound to obey the 
secular power. For a gloss on Matthew xvii. 25, "Then the children 
are free," says: "If in every kingdom the children of the king who 
holds sway over that kingdom are free, then the children of that 
King, under Whose sway are all kingdoms, should be free in every 
kingdom." Now Christians, by their faith in Christ, are made chil- 
dren of God, according to John i. 12: "He gave them power to be 
made the sons of God, to them that believe in His name." There- 
fore they are not bound to obey the secular power. 

Obj. 2. Further, it is written: "You . . . are become dead to 
the law by the body of Christ," ^^ and the law mentioned here is the 
divine law of the Old Testament. Now human law whereby men are 
subject to the secular power is of less account than the divine law 
of the Old Testament. Much more, therefore, since they have be- 
come members of Christ's body, are men freed from the law of 
subjection, whereby they were under the power of secular princes. 

Obj. 3. Further, men are not bound to obey robbers, who oppress 
them with violence. Now Augustine says: "Without justice, what 
else is a kingdom but a huge robbery?"^® Since therefore the au- 
thority of secular princes is frequently exercised with injustice or 



172 SUMMA THEOLOGICA II-H 

owes its origin to some unjust usurpation, it seems that Christians 
ought not to obey secular princes. 

On the contrary, It is written: "Admonish them to be subject 
to princes and powers"; ^"^ and: "Be ye subject ... to every hu- 
man creature for God's sake, whether it be to the king as excelling 
or to governors as sent by him." ^^ 

/ answer that, Faith in Christ is the origin and cause of justice, 
according to Romans iii. 22: "The justice of God by faith of Jesus 
Christ"; wherefore faith in Christ does not void the order of jus- 
tice, but strengthens it. Now the order of justice requires that sub- 
jects obey their superiors, else the stability of human affairs would 
cease. Hence faith in Christ does not excuse the faithful from the 
obligation of obeying secular princes. 

Reply Obj. i. As stated above (A. 5), the subjection whereby 
one man is bound to another regards the body, not the soul, which 
retains its liberty. Now, in this state of life we are freed by the 
grace of Christ from defects of the soul, but not from defects of the 
body, as the Apostle declares by saying of himself that in his mind 
he served the law of God, but in his flesh the law of sin.^® Where- 
fore those that are made children of God by grace are free from 
the spiritual bondage of sin, but not from the bodily bondage, 
whereby they are held bound to earthly masters, as a gloss ob- 
serves on I Timothy vi. i, "Whosoever are servants under the 
yoke," etc. 

Reply Obj. 2. The Old Law was a figure of the New Testament, 
and therefore it had to cease on the advent of truth. And the com- 
parison with human law does not stand, because thereby one man 
is subject to another. Yet man is bound by divine law to obey his 
fellow man. 

Reply Obj. 3. Man is bound to obey secular princes in so far 
as this is required by the order of justice. Wherefore if the prince's 
authority is not just but usurped, or if he commands what is un- 
just, his subjects are not bound to obey him, except perhaps acci- 
dentally, in order to avoid scandal or danger. 



ON KINGSHIP 
{De Regimine Principum) 
[Selections from Book One] 



ON KINGSHIP 

[Selections] 

CHAPTER ONE 
WHAT IS MEANT BY THE WORD "KING" 

[3] In all things which are ordered toward an end wherein this 
or that course may be adopted, some directive principle is needed 
through which the due end may be reached by the most direct 
route. A ship, for example, which moves in different directions ac- 
cording to the impulse of the changing winds would never reach 
its destination were it not brought to port by the skill of the pilot. 
Now, man has an end to which his whole life and all his actions 
are ordered; for man is an intelligent agent, and it is clearly the 
part of an intelligent agent to act in view of an end. Men also 
adopt different methods in proceeding toward their proposed end, 
jis the diversity of men's pursuits and actions clearly indicates. 
Consequently man needs some directive principle to gvide him to- 
ward his end. 

[4] To be sure, the light of reason is placed by nature in ev- 
ery man, to guide him in his acts toward his end. Wherefore, if 
man were intended to live alone, as many animals do, he would 
require no other guide to his end. Each man would be a king unto 
himself, under God, the highest King, inasmuch as he would di- 
rect himself in his acts by the light of reason given him from on 
high. Yet it is natural for man, more than for any other animal, 
to be a social and political animal,^ to live in a group. ^ 

[s] This is clearly a necessity of man's nature.' For all other 
animals, nature has prepared food, hair as a covering, teeth, 
horns, claws as means of defense, or at least speed in flight, 
while man alone was made without any natural provisions for 

17s 



176 ON KINGSHIP 

these things. Instead of all these, man was endowed with reason, 
by the use of which he could procure all these things for himself 
by the work of his hands.* Now, one man alone is not able to pro- 
cure them all for himself, for one man could not sufficiently pro- 
vide for life unassisted. It is therefore natural that man should 
live in the society of many. 

[6] Moreover, all other animals are able to discern, by inborn 
skill, what is useful and what is injurious, even as the sheep nat- 
urally regards the wolf as his enemy. Some animals also recognize 
by natural skill certain medicinal herbs and other things necessary 
for their life. Man, on the contrary, has a natural knowledge of 
the things which are essential for his life only in a general fashion, 
inasmuch as he is able to attain knowledge of the particular things 
necessary for human life by reasoning from natural principles. 
But it is not possible for one man to arrive at a knowledge of all 
these things by his own individual reason. It is therefore necessary 
for man to live in a multitude so that each one may assist his fel- 
lows, and different men may be occupied in seeking, by their rea- 
son, to make different discoveries — one, for example, in medicine, 
one in this and another in that. 

[7] This point is further and most plainly evidenced by the 
fact that the use of speech is a prerogative proper to man. By 
this means, one man is able fully to express his conceptions to 
others. Other animals, it is true, express their feelings to one an- 
other in a general way, as a dog may express anger by barking 
and other animals give vent to other feelings in various fashions. 
But man communicates with his kind more completely than any 
other animal known to be gregarious, such as the crane, the ant, 
or the bee.^ — With this in mind, Solomon says: "It is better that 
there be two than one; for they have the advantage of their com- 
pany."^ 

[8] If, then, it is natural for man to live in the society of many, 
it is necessary that there exist among men some means by which 
the group may be governed. For where there are many men to- 
gether and each one is looking after his own interest, the multi- 
tude would be broken up and scattered unless there were also an 
agency to take care of what appertains to the common weal. In 



PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS 1 77 

like manner, the body of a man or any other animal would dis- 
integrate unless there were a general ruling force within the body 
which watches over the common good of all members. — ^With this 
in mind, Solomon says: "Where there is no governor, the people 
shall fall." ^ 

[g] Indeed it is reasonable that this should happen, for what 
is proper and what is common are not identical.^ Things differ by 
what is proper to each ; they are united by what they have in com- 
mon. But diversity of effects is due to diversity of causes. Conse- 
quently, there must exist something which impels toward the 
common good of the many, over and above that which impels 
toward the particular good of each individual. Wherefore also in 
all things that are ordained toward one end, one thing is found to 
rule the rest.® Thus in the corporeal universe, by the first body, 
i.e., the celestial body, the other bodies are regulated according to 
the order of divine providence; and all bodies are ruled by a ra- 
tional creature.^^ So, too, in the individual man, the soul rules the 
body; and among the pxarts of the soul, the irascible and the con- 
cupiscible parts are ruled by reason. ^^ Likewise, among the mem- 
bers of a body, one, such as the heart or the head, is the principal 
and moves all the others. ^^ Therefore in every multitude there 
must be some governing power. 

[lo] Now it happens in certain things which are ordained to- 
ward an end that one may proceed in a right way ai.d also in a 
wrong way. So, too, in the government of a multitude there is a 
distinction between right and wrong. A thing is rightly directed 
when it is led toward a befitting end, wrongly when it is led to- 
ward an unbefitting end.^^ Now the end which befits a multitude 
of free men is different from that which befits a multitude of 
slaves, for the free man is one who exists for his own sake, while 
the slave, as such, exists for the sake of another.^* If, therefore, a 
multitude of free men is ordered by the ruler toward the common 
good of the multitude, that rulership will be right and just, as is 
suitable to free men. If, on the other hand, a rulership aims, not 
at the common good of the multitude, but at the private good of 
the ruler, it will be an unjust and perverted rulership. The Lord, 
therefore, threatens such rulers, saying by the mouth of Ezechiel: 



178 ON KINGSHIP 

"Woe to the shepherds that feed themselves (seeking, that is, their 
own interest): should not the flocks be fed by the shepherd?" ^^ 
Shepherds indeed should seek the good of their flocks, and every 
ruler, the good of the multitude subject to him. 

[11] If an unjust government is carried on by one man alone,^* 
who seeks his own benefit from his rule and not the good of the 
multitude subject to him, such a ruler is called a "tyrant" — a 
word derived from "strength" — because he oppresses by might 
instead of ruling by justice.^'^ Thus among the ancients all power- 
ful men were called tyrants. If an unjust government is carried 
on, not by one but by several, and if they be few, it is called an 
"oligarchy," that is, the rule of a few. This occurs when a few, 
who differ from the tyrant only by the fact that they are more 
than one, oppress the people by means of their wealth. If, finally, 
the bad government is carried on by the multitude, it is called a 
"democracy," i.e., control by the populace, which comes about 
when the plebeian people by force of numbers oppress the rich. 
In this way the whole people will be as one tyrant. 

[12] In like manner we must divide just governments. If the 
government is administered by many, i-t is given the name common 
to all forms of government, viz., "polity," as for instance when a 
group of warriors exercise dominion over a city or province. ^^ If it 
is administered by a few men of virtue, this kind of government 
is called an "aristocracy," i.e., noble governance, or governance by 
noble men, who for this reason are called the "Optimates." ^® 
And if a just government is in the hands of one man alone, he is 
properly called a "king." Wherefore the Lord says by the mouth 
of Ezechiel: "My servant, David, shall be king over them and all 
of them shall have one shepherd." ^^ 

[13] From this it is clearly shown that the idea of king implies 
that he be one man who is chief and that he be a shepherd seek- 
ing the common good of the multitude and not his own. 

[14] Now since man must live in a group, because he is not 
sufficient unto himself to procure the necessities of life were he 
to remain solitary, it follows that a society will be the more per- 
fect the more it is sufficient unto itself to procure the necessities 
of life.^^ There is, to some extent, sufficiency for life in one family 



RULE BY ONE OR BY MANY 1 79 

of one household, namely, in so far as pertains to the natural acts of 
nourishment and the begetting of offspring and other things of 
this kind. Self-sufficiency exists, furthermore, in one street ^^ with 
regard to those things which belong to the trade of one guild. In 
a city, which is the perfect community, it exists with regard to 
all the necessities of life. Still more self-sufficiency is found in a 
province ^^ because of the need of fighting together and of mutual 
help against enemies. Hence the man ruling a perfect community, 
i.e., a city or a province, is antonomastically ^^ called the king. The 
ruler of a household is called father, not king, although he bears 
a certain resemblance to the king, for which reason kings are some- 
times called the fathers of their peoples. ^^ 

[15] It is plain, therefore, from what has been said, that a 
king is one who rules the people of one city or province, and rules 
them for the common good. Wherefore Solomon says: "The king 
ruleth over all the land subject to him." ^^ 



CHAPTER TWO 

WHETHER IT IS MORE EXPEDIENT FOR A CITY OR 
PROVINCE TO BE RULED BY ONE MAN OR BY MANY 

[16] Having set forth these preliminary points we must now 
inquire what is better for a province or a city: whether to be 
ruled by one man or by many. 

[17] This question may be considered first from the viewpoint 
of the purpose of government. The aim of any ruler should be di- 
rected toward securing the welfare of that which he undertakes to 
rule. The duty of the pilot, for instance, is to preserve his ship 
amidst the perils of the sea and to bring it unharmed to the port 
of safety. Now the welfare and safety of a multitude formed into 
a society lies in the preservation of its unity, which is called peace. 
If this is removed, the benefit of social life is lost and, moreover, 
the multitude in its disagreement becomes a burden to itself. The 
chief concern of the ruler of a multitude, therefore, is to procure 



l8o ON KINGSHIP 

the unity of peace. ^ It is not even legitimate for him to deliberate 
whether he shall establish peace in the multitude subject to him, 
just as a physician does not deliberate whether he shall heal the 
sick man encharged to him, ^ for no one should deliberate about an 
end which he is obliged to seek, but only about the means to at- 
tain that end. Wherefore the Apostle, having commended the 
unity of the faithful people, says: "Be ye careful to keep the unity 
of the spirit in the bond of peace." ^ Thus, the more efficacious a 
government is in keeping the unity of peace, the more useful it 
will be. For we call that more useful which leads more directly to 
the end. Now it is manifest that what is itself one can more effi- 
caciously bring about unity than several — ^just as the most effi- 
cacious cause of heat is that which is by its nature hot.^ Therefore 
the rule of one man is more useful than the rule of many. 

[i8] Furthermore, it is evident that several persons could by 
no means preserve the stability of the community if they totally 
disagreed. For union is necessary among them if they are to rule 
at all; several men, for instance, could not pull a ship in one di- 
rection unless joined together in some fashion. Now several are 
said to be united according as they come closer to being one. So 
one man rules better than several who come near being one.^ 

[19] Again, whatever is in accord with nature is best, for in all 
things nature does what is best. Now every natural governance 
is governance by one.* In the multitude of bodily members there 
is one which is the principal mover, namely, the heart ; and among 
the powers of the soul one power presides as chief, namely, the 
reason. Among bees there is one king bee,'' and in the whole uni- 
verse there is One God, Maker and Ruler of all things. And there 
is a reason for this. Every multitude is derived from unity. Where- 
fore, if artificial things are an imitation of natural things and a 
work of art is better according as it attains a closer likeness to 
what is in nature, it follows that it is best for a human multitude 
to be ruled by one person.^ 

[20] This is also evident from experience. For provinces or 

a See above § 9 ; CG I, 42. 

bin popular ancient and medieval opinion, the chief bee was considered to 

be a male. Aristotle, Hist. Anim. V, 21: ssaa 25. 



THE ABSOLUTE DEMERITS OF TYRANNY l8l 

cities which are not ruled by one person are torn with dissensions 
and tossed about without peace, so that the complaint seems to be 
fulfilled which the Lord uttered through the Prophet: "Many 
pastors have destroyed my vineyard." ^ On the other hand, prov- 
inces and cities which are ruled under one king enjoy peace, 
flourish in justice, and delight in prosperity. Hence, the Lord by 
His prophets promises to His people as a great reward that He 
will give them one head and that ''one Prince will be in the midst 
of them." 8 



CHAPTER THREE 
THAT THE DOMINION OF A TYRANT IS THE WORST 

[21] Just as the government of a king is the best, so the gov^ 
ernment of a tyrant is the worst.^ 

[22] For democracy stands in contrary opposition to polity, 
since both are governments carried on by many persons, as is 
clear from what has already been said; * while oligarchy is the 
opposite of aristocracy, since both are governments carried on by 
a few persons ; and kingship is the opposite of tyranny, since both 
are carried on by one person. Now, as has been shown above,'' 
monarchy is the best government. If, therefore, "it is the contrary 
of the best that is worst," ^ it follows that tyranny is the worst 
kind of government. 

[23] Further, a united force is more efficacious in producing 
its effect than a force which is scattered or divided. Many persons 
together can pull a load which could not be pulled by each one 
taking his part separately and acting individually. Therefore, just 
as it is more useful for a force operating for a good to be more 
united, in order that it may work good more effectively, so a force 
operating for evil is more harmful when it is one than when it is 
divided. Now, the power of one who rules unjustly works to the 
detriment of the multitude, in that he diverts the common good 
a Bk. I, §§ 11-12, p. 178. *> Bk. I, Ch. II, pp. 179 ff. 



1 82 ON KINGSHIP 

of the multitude to his own benefit. Therefore, for the same rea- 
son that, in a just government, the government is better in pro- 
portion as the ruling power is one — thus monarchy is better than 
aristocracy, and aristocracy better than polity — so the contrary 
will be true of an unjust government, namely, that the ruling 
power will be more harmful in proportion as it is more unitary. 
Consequently, tyranny is more harmful than oligarchy and oli- 
garchy more harmful than democracy. 

[24] Moreover, a government becomes unjust by the fact that 
the ruler, paying no heed to the common good, seeks his own pri- 
vate good. Wherefore the further he departs from the common 
good the more unjust will his government be. But there is a greater 
departure from the common good in an oligarchy, in which the 
advantage of a few is sought, than in a democracy, in which the 
advantage of many is sought; and there is a still greater departure 
from the common good in a tyranny, where the advantage of only 
one man is sought. For a large number is closer to the totality 
than a small number, and a small number than only one. Thus, 
the government of a tyrant is the most unjust. 

[25] The same conclusion is made clear to those who consider 
the order of divine providence, which disposes everything in the 
best way. In all things, good ensues from one perfect cause, i.e., 
from the totality of the conditions favorable to the production of 
the effect, while evil results from any one partial defect.* There is 
beauty in a body when all its members are fittingly disposed ; ugli- 
ness, on the other hand, arises when any one member is not fit- 
tingly disposed. Thus ugliness results in different ways from many 
causes, beauty in one way from one perfect cause. It is thus with 
all good and evil things, as if God so provided that good, arising 
from one cause, be stronger, and evil, arising from many causes, 
be weaker. It is expedient therefore that a just government be that 
of one man only in order that it may be stronger; however, if the 
government should turn away from justice, it is more expedient 
that it be a government by many, so that it may be weaker and 
the many may mutually hinder one another. Among unjust gov- 
ernments, therefore, democracy is the most tolerable, but the 
worst is tyranny. 



THE ABSOLUTE DEMERITS OF TYRANNY 1 83 

[26] This same conclusion is also apparent if one considers the 
evils which come from tyrants. Since a tyrant, despising the com- 
mon good, seeks his private interest, it follows that he will oppress 
his subjects in different ways according as he is dominated by 
different passions to acquire certain goods. The one who is en- 
thralled by the passion of cupidity seizes the goods of his subjects; 
whence Solomon says: "A just king setteth up the land; a covetous 
man shall destroy it." * If he is dominated by the passion of an- 
ger, he sheds blood for nothing; whence it is said by Ezechiel: 
"Her princes in the midst of her are like wolves ravening the prey 
to shed blood." '^ Therefore this kind of government is to be 
avoided as the Wise man admonishes: "Keep thee far from the 
man who has the power to kill," * because, forsooth, he kills not 
for justice' sake but by his power, for the lust of his will. Thus 
there can be no safety. Everything is uncertain when there is a 
departure from justice. Nobody will be able firmly to state: This 
thing is such and such, when it depends upon the will of another, 
not to say upon his caprice. Nor does the tyrant merely oppress 
his subjects in corporal things but he also hinders their spiritual 
good. Those who seek more to use than to be of use to their sub- 
jects prevent all progress, suspecting all excellence in their sub- 
jects to be prejudicial to their own evil domination. For tyrants 
hold the good in greater suspicion than the wicked, and to them 
the valor of others is always fraught with danger.* 

[27] So the above-mentioned ^ tyrants strive to prevent those 
of their subjects who have become virtuous from acquiring valor 
and high spirit in order that they may not want to cast of! their in- 
iquitous domination. They also see to it that there be no friendly re- 
lations among these so that they may not enjoy the benefits resulting 
from being on good terms with one another, for as long as one has 
no confidence in the other, no plot will be set up against the 
tyrant's domination. Wherefore they sow discords among the peo- 
ple, foster any that have arisen, and forbid anything which furthers 

<=This sentence occurs word for word in Sallust, Bel. Cat. VII, 2, where, how- 
ever, it is said of kings. It is the sentence immediately preceding the one 
quoted below in § 31, p. 185. This plagiarism is most unusual in St. Thomas' 
writings. 



1 84 ON KINGSHIP 

society and co-operation among men, such as marriage, company 
at table, and anything of Hke character, through which familiarity 
and confidence are engendered among men. They moreover strive 
to prevent their subjects from becoming powerful and rich since, 
suspecting these to be as wicked as themselves, they fear their 
power and wealth; for the subjects might become harmful to them 
even as they are accustomed to use power and wealth to harm 
others.^ Whence in the Book of Job it is said of the tyrant: "The 
sound of dread is always in his ears, and when there is peace (that 
is, when there is no one to harm him) he always suspects 
treason." ® 

[28] It thus results that when rulers, who ought to induce their 
subjects to virtue, ^^ are wickedly jealous of the virtue of their sub- 
jects and hinder it as much as they can, few virtuous men are 
found under the rule of tyrants. For, according to Aristotle's 
sentence, brave men are found where brave men are honored. ^^ And 
as Cicero says: "Those who are despised by everybody are dis- 
heartened and flourish but little." ^^ It is also natural that men 
brought up in fear should become mean of spirit and discouraged 
in the face of any strenuous and manly task. This is shown by 
experience in provinces that have long been under tyrants. Hence 
the Apostle says to the Colossians: "Fathers, provoke not your 
children to indignation, lest they be discouraged." ^^ 

[29] So, considering these evil effects of tyranny. King Solomon 
says: "When the wicked reign, men are ruined,"^* because, for- 
sooth, through the wickedness of tyrants, subjects fall away from 
the perfection of virtue. And again he says: "When the wicked shall 
bear rule the people shall mourn, as though led into slavery." ^"^ 
And again: "When the wicked rise up men shall hide them- 
selves," ^^ that they may escape the cruelty of the tyrant. It is no 
wonder, for a man governing without reason, according to the lust 
of his soul, in no way differs from the beast. Whence Solomon says: 
"As a roaring lion and a hungry bear, so is a wicked prince over 
the poor people." ^^ Therefore men hide from tyrants as from cruel 
beasts, and it seems that to be subject to a tyrant is the same thing 
as to lie prostrate beneath a raging beast. 



OF THE ROYAL DIGNITY 1 85 

CHAPTER FOUR 

WHY THE ROYAL DIGNITY IS RENDERED 
HATEFUL TO THE SUBJECTS 

[30] Because both the best and the worst government are 
latent in monarchy, i.e. in the rule of one man, the royal dignity 
is rendered hateful to many people on account of the wickedness 
of tyrants. Some men, indeed, whilst they desire to be ruled by a 
king, fall under the cruelty of tyrants, and not a few rulers exercise 
tyranny under the cloak of royal dignity. 

[31] A clear example of this is found in the Roman Republic. 
When the kings had been driven out by the Roman people, be- 
cause they could not bear the royal, or rather tyrannical, arrogance, 
they instituted consuls and other magistrates by whom they be- 
gan to be ruled and guided.^ They changed the kingdom into an 
aristocracy, and, as Sallust relates: "The Roman city, once liberty 
was won, waxed incredibly strong and great in a remarkably short 
time." 2 For it frequently happens that men living under a king 
strive more sluggishly for the common good, inasmuch as they 
consider that what they devote to the common good they do not 
confer upon themselves but upon another, under whose power 
they see the common goods to be. But when they see that the 
common good is not under the power of one man, they do not 
attend to it as if it belonged to another, but each one attends to 
it as if it were his own.* 

[32] Experience thus teaches that one city administered by 
rulers, changing annually, is sometimes able to do more than some 
kings having, perchance, two or three cities; and small services 
exacted by kings weigh more heavily than great burdens imposed 
by the community of citizens. This held good in the history of the 
Roman Republic. The plebs were enrolled in the army and were 
paid wages for military service.^ Then when the common treasury 
was failing, private riches came forth for public uses, to such an 
extent that not even the senators retained any gold for themselves 
« Cf. 5. 1-II, Q. los, A. I, pp. 86 ff. 



1 86 ON KINGSHIP 

save one ring and the one bulla (the insignia of their dignity). 

[33] On the other hand, when the Romans were worn out by 
continual dissensions taking on the proportion of civil wars, and 
when by these wars the freedom for which they had greatly striven 
was snatched from their hands, they began to find themselves 
under the power of emperors who, from the beginning, were un- 
willing to be called kings, for the royal name was hateful to the 
Romans. Some emperors, it is true, faithfully cared for the com- 
mon good in a kingly manner, and by their zeal the commonwealth 
was increased and preserved. But most of them became tyrants 
toward their subjects while indolent and vacillating before their 
enemies, and brought the Roman commonwealth to naught.* 

[34] A similar process took place, also, among the Hebrew 
people. At first, while they were ruled by judges, they were 
ravished by their enemies on every hand, for each one "did what 
was good in his sight." ^ Yet when, at their own pressing, God gave 
them kings, they departed from the worship of the one God and 
were finally led into bondage, on account of the wickedness of 
their kings.® 

[35] Danger thus lurks on either side. Either men are held 
by the fear of a tyrant and they miss the opportunity of having 
that very best government which is kingship, or they want a king 
and the kingly power turns into tyrannical wickedness. 



CHAPTER FIVE 

THAT IT IS A LESSER EVIL WHEN A MONARCHY 

TURNS INTO TYRANNY THAN WHEN AN 

ARISTOCRACY BECOMES CORRUPT 

[36] When a choice is to be made between two things, from 
both of which danger impends, surely that one should be chosen 
from which the lesser evil follows. Now, lesser evil follows from 
the corruption of a monarchy (which is tyranny) than from the 
corruption of an aristocracy. 



THE HISTORICAL MERITS OF MONARCHY 187 

[37] Group government [polyarchy] most frequently breeds 
dissension. This dissension runs counter to the good of peace, which 
is the principal social good. A tyrant, on the other hand, does not 
destroy this good; rather he obstructs one or the other individual 
interest of his subjects — unless, of course, there be an excess of 
tyranny and the tyrant rages against the whole community. Mon- 
archy is therefore to be preferred to polyarchy, although either 
form of government might become dangerous, 

[38] Further, that from which great dangers may follow more 
frequently is, it would seem, the more to be avoided. Now, con- 
siderable dangers to the multitude follow more frequently from 
polyarchy than from monarchy. There is a greater chance that, 
where there are many rulers, one of them will abandon the inten- 
tion of the common good than that it will be abandoned when 
there is but one ruler. When any one among several rulers turns 
aside from the pursuit of the common good, danger of internal 
strife threatens the group because, when the chiefs quarrel, dissen- 
sion will follow in the people. When, on the other hand, one man 
is in command, he more often keeps to governing for the sake of 
the common good. Should he not do so, it does not immediately 
follow that he also proceeds to the total oppression of his subjects. 
This, of course, would be the excess of tyranny and the worst 
wickedness in government, as has been shown above.* The dangers, 
then, arising from a polyarchy are more to be guarded against than 
those arising from a monarchy. 

[39] Moreover, in point of fact, a polyarchy deviates into 
tyranny not less but perhaps more frequently than a monarchy. 
When, on account of there being many rulers, dissensions arise in 
such a government, it often happens that the power of one pre- 
ponderates and he then usurps the government of the multitude for 
himself. This indeed may be clearly seen from history. There has 
hardly ever been a polyarchy that did not end in tyranny. The 
best illustration of this fact is the history of the Roman Republic. 

a Bk. I, Ch. Ill, pp. 181 ff. The statement in § 23: "tyranny is more harmful 
than oligarchy," is not contradictory to the thesis of the present chapter, 
as Endres, p. 266, affirms. The reasoning of Ch. Ill proceeds on the supposition 
of an absolute and total tyranny, which is here expressly set aside. 



1 88 ON KINGSHIP 

It was for a long time administered by the magistrates, but then 
animosities, dissensions, and civil wars arose, and it fell into the 
power of the most cruel tyrants. In general, if one carefully con- 
siders what has happened in the past and what is happening in the 
present,^ he will discover that more men have held tyrannical sway 
in lands previously ruled by many rulers than in those ruled by 
one.^ 

[40] The strongest objection why monarchy, although it is "the 
best form of government," is not agreeable to the people is that, in 
fact, it may deviate into tyranny. Yet tyranny is wont to occur not 
less but more frequently on the basis of a polyarchy than on the 
basis of a monarchy. It follows that it is, in any case, more expedi- 
ent to live under one king than under the rule of several men.^ 



CHAPTER SIX 

HOW PROVISION MIGHT BE MADE THAT THE 
KING MAY NOT FALL INTO TYRANNY 

[41] Therefore, since the rule of one man, which is the best, is 
to be preferred, and since it may happen that it be changed into a 
tyranny, which is the worst (all this is clear from what has been 
said), a scheme should be carefully worked out which would pre- 
vent the multitude ruled by a king from falling into the hands of 
a tyrant. 

[42] First, it is necessary that the man who is raised up to be 
king by those whom it concerns should be of such condition that 
It is improbable that he should become a tyrant. Wherefore 
Daniel, commending the providence of God with respect to the 
institution of the king says: "The Lord hath sought him a man 
according to his own heart, and the Lord hath appointed him to 
"be prince over his people." ^ Then, once the king is established, the 
government of the kingdom must be so arranged that opportunity 
to tyrannize is removed. At the same time his power should be so 



LIMITED MONARCHY 1 89 

tempered that he cannot easily fall into tyranny .^ How these 
things may be done we must consider in what follows. 

[43] Finally, provision must be made for facing the situation 
should the king' stray into tyranny.^ 

[44] Indeed, if there be not an excess of tyranny it is more 
expedient to tolerate the milder tyranny for a while than, by acting 
against the tyrant, to become involved in many perils more grievous 
than the tyranny itself. For it may happen that those who act 
against the tyrant are unable to prevail and the tyrant then will 
rage the more. But should one be able to prevail against the tyrant, 
from this fact itself very grave dissensions among the people fre- 
quently ensue: the multitude may be broken up into factions either 
during their revolt against the tyrant or in process of the organiza- 
tion of the government, after the tyrant has been overthrown. 
Moreover, it sometimes happens that while the multitude is driving 
out the tyrant by the help of some man, the latter, having received 
the power, thereupon seizes the tyranny. Then, fearing to suffer 
from another what he did to his predecessor, he oppresses his sub- 
jects with an even more grievous slavery. This is wont to happen 
in tyranny, namely, that the second becomes more grievous than 
the one preceding, inasmuch as, without abandoning the previous 
oppressions, he himself thinks up fresh ones from the malice of 
his heart. Whence in Syracuse, at a time when everyone desired 
the death of Dionysius, a certain old woman kept constantly pray- 
ing that he might be unharmed and that he might survive her. 
When the tyrant learned this he asked why she did it. Then she 
said: "When I was a girl we had a harsh tyrant and I wished for 
his death; when he was killed, there succeeded him one who was a 
little harsher. I was very eager to see the end of his dominion also, 
and we began to have a third ruler still more harsh — that was you. 
So if you should be taken away, a worse would succeed in your 
place." "^ 

[45] If the excess of tyranny is unbearable, some have been of 
the opinion that it would be an act of virtue for strong men to 
slay the tyrant and to expose themselves to the danger of death 
in order to set the multitude free.'' An example of this occurs even 



190 ON KINGSHIP 

in the Old Testament, for a certain Aioth slew Eglon, King of 
Moab, who was oppressing the people of God under harsh slavery, 
thrusting a dagger into his thigh ; and he was made a judge of the 
people.^ 

[46] But this opinion is not in accord with apostolic teaching. 
For Peter admonishes us to be reverently subject to our masters, 
not only to the good and gentle but also the forward: ''For if one 
who suffers unjustly bear his trouble for conscience' sake, this is 
grace." ^ Wherefore, when many emperors of the Romans tyran- 
nically persecuted the faith of Christ, a great number both of the 
nobility and the common people were converted to the faith and 
were praised for patiently bearing death for Christ. They did not 
resist although they were armed, and this is plainly manifested in 
the case of the holy Theban legion.® Aioth, then, must be con- 
sidered rather as having slain a foe than assassinated a ruler, how- 
ever tyrannical, of the people. Hence in the Old Testament we also 
read that they who killed Joas, the King of Juda, who had fallen 
away from the worship of God, were slain and their children spared 
according to the precept of the law.^ 

[47] Should private persons attempt on their own private pre- 
sumption to kill the rulers, even though tyrants, this would be 
dangerous for the multitude as well as for their rulers. This is be- 
cause the wicked usually expose themselves to dangers of this kind 
more than the good, for the rule of a king, no less than that of a 
tyrant, is burdensome to them, since, according to the words of 
Solomon: "A wise king scattereth the wicked." ^^ Consequently, 
by presumption of this kind, danger to the people from the loss of 
a good king would be more probable than relief through the re- 
moval of a tyrant, 

[48] Furthermore, it seems that to proceed against the cruelty 
of tyrants is an action to be undertaken, not through the private 
presumption of a few, but rather by public authority. 

[49] If to provide itself with a king belongs to the right of a 
given multitude, it is not unjust that the king be deposed or have 
his power restricted by that same multitude if, becoming a tyrant, 
he abuses the royal power. It must not be thought that such a 
multitude is acting unfaithfully in deposing the tyrant, even though 



LIMITED MONARCHY I9I 

it had previously subjected itself to him in perpetuity, because he 
himself has deserved that the covenant with his subjects should not 
be kept, since, in ruling the multitude, he did not act faithfully as 
the office of a king demands. Thus did the Romans, who had ac- 
cepted Tarquin the Proud as their king, cast him out from the 
kingship on account of his tyranny and the tyranny of his sons; 
and they set up in their place a lesser power, namely, the consular 
power.^^ Similarly Domitian, who had succeeded those most mod- 
erate emperors, Vespasian, his father, and Titus, his brother, was 
slain by the Roman senate when he exercised tyranny, and all his 
wicked deeds were justly and profitably declared null and void by 
a decree of the senate.^^ Thus it came about that Blessed John 
the Evangelist, the beloved disciple of God, who had been exiled to 
the island of Patmos by that very Domitian, was sent back to 
Ephesus by a decree of the senate. 

[50] If, on the other hand, it pertains to the right of a higher 
authority to provide a king for a certain multitude, a remedy 
against the wickedness of a tyrant is to be looked for from him. 
Thus when Archelaus, who had already begun to reign in Judaea 
in the place of Herod, his father, was imitating his father's wicked- 
ness, a complaint against him having been laid before Caesar 
Augustus by the Jews, his power was at first diminished by de- 
priving him of his title of king and by dividing one-half of his 
kingdom between his two brothers. Later, since he was not re- 
strained from tyranny even by this means, Tiberius Caesar sent 
him into exile to Lugdunum, a city in Gaul.^^ 

[51] Should no human aid whatsoever against a tyrant be forth- 
coming, recourse must be had to God, the King of all. Who is a 
helper in due time in tribulation.^^ For it lies in his power to turn 
the cruel heart of the tyrant to mildness.^^ According to Solomon: 
"The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord, withersoever He 
will He shall turn it." ^^ He it was who turned into mildness the 
cruelty of King Assuerus, who was preparing death for the Jews. 
He it was who so filled the cruel king Nabuchodonosor with piety 
that he became a proclaimer of the divine power.^^ "Therefore," 
he said, "I, Nabuchodonosor do now praise and magnify and 
glorify the King of Heaven; because all His works are true and 



192 ON KINGSHIP 

His ways judgments, and they that walk in pride He is able to 
abase." ^^ Those tyrants, however, whom He deems unworthy of 
conversion He is able to put out of tlje way or to degrade, accord- 
ing to the words of the Wise Man: "God hath overturned the 
thrones of proud princes and hath set up the meek in their 
stead." ^^ He it was who, seeing the affliction of his people in Egypt 
and hearing their cry, hurled Pharaoh, a tyrant over God's people, 
with all his army into the sea.^^ He it was who not only banished 
from his kingly throne the above-mentioned Nabuchodonosor be- 
cause of his former pride, but also cast him from the fellowship of 
men and changed him into the likeness of a beast.^^ Indeed, his 
hand is not shortened that He cannot free his people from 
tyrants.^^ For by Isaias He promised to give his people rest from 
their labors and lashings and harsh slavery in which they had 
formerly served; ^^ and by Ezechiel He says: "I will deliver my 
flock from their mouth," ^* i.e., from the mouth of shepherds who 
feed themselves. 

[52] But to deserve to secure this benefit from God, the people 
must desist from sin, for it is by divine permission that wicked 
men receive power to rule as a punishment for sin,^^ as the Lord 
says by the Prophet Osee: "I will give thee a king in my wrath," ^^ 
and it is said in Job that he "maketh a man that is a hypocrite to 
reign for the sins of the people." ^^ Sin must therefore be done 
away with in order that the scourge of tyrants may cease. 



CHAPTER SEVEN*' 

WHAT ADVANTAGES WHICH ARE RENDERED 
TO KINGS ARE LOST BY THE TYRANT 

[76] It is to be added further, however, that the very temporal 
advantages for which tyrants abandon justice work to the greater 
profit of kings when they observe justice. 

[77] First of all, among all worldly things there is nothing 
* [Chapter Ten in the complete edition.] 



THE REWARD OF A KING 193 

which seems worthy to be preferred to friendship. Friendship unites 
good men and preserves and promotes virtue. Friendship is needed 
by all men in whatsoever occupations they engage. In prosperity it 
does not thrust itself unwanted upon us, nor does it desert us in 
adversity. It is what brings with it the greatest delight, to such an 
extent that all that pleases is changed to weariness when friends 
are absent, and all difficult things are made easy and as nothing 
by love. There is no tyrant so cruel that friendship does not bring 
him pleasure. When Dionysius, sometime tyrant of Syracuse, 
wanted to kill one of two friends, Damon and Pythias, the one who 
was to be killed asked leave to go home and set his affairs in order, 
and the other friend surrendered himself to the tyrant as security 
for his return. When the appointed day was approaching and he 
had not yet returned, everyone said that his hostage was a fool, 
but he declared he had no fear whatever regarding his friend's 
loyalty. The very hour when he was to be put to death, his friend 
returned. Admiring the courage of both, the tyrant remitted the 
sentence on account of the loyalty of their friendship, and asked in 
addition that they should receive him as a third member in their 
bond of friendship.^ 

[78] Yet, although tyrants desire this very benefit of friendship, 
they cannot obtain it, for when they seek their own good instead 
of the common good there is little or no communion between them 
and their subjects. Now all friendship is concluded upon the basis 
of something common among those who are to be friends, for we 
see that those are united in friendship who have in common either 
their natural origin, or some similarity in habits of life, or any kind 
of social interests.^ Consequently there can be little or no friend- 
ship between tyrants and their subjects. When the latter are op- 
pressed by tyrannical injustice and feel they are not loved but 
despised, they certainly do not conceive any love, for it is too 
great a virtue for the common man to love his enemies and to do 
good to his persecutors. Nor have tyrants any reason to complain 
of their subjects if they are not loved by them, since they do not 
act toward them in such a way that they ought to be loved by 
them. Good kings, on the contrary, are loved by many when they 
show that they love their subjects and are studiously intent on the 



194 ON KINGSHIP 

common welfare, and when their subjects can see that they derive 
many benefits from this zealous care. For to hate their friends and 
return evil for, good to their benefactors — this, surely, would be 
too great a malice to ascribe fittingly to the generality of men. 

[79] The consequence of this love is that the government of 
good kings is stable, because their subjects do not refuse to expose 
themselves to any danger whatsoever on behalf of such kings. An 
example of this is to be seen in Julius Caesar, who, as Suetonius 
relates, loved his soldiers to such an extent that when he heard 
that some of them were slaughtered, "he refused to cut either hair 
or beard until he had taken vengeance." ' In this way, he made his 
soldiers most loyal to himself as well as most valiant, so that 
many, on being taken prisoner, refused to accept their lives when 
offered them on the condition that they serve against Caesar. 
Octavianus Augustus, also, who was most moderate in his use of 
power, was so loved by his subjects that some of them "on their 
deathbeds provided in their wills a thank offering to be paid by 
the immolation of animals, so grateful were they that the emperor's 
life outlasted their own." * Therefore it is no easy task to shake 
the government of a prince whom the people so unanimously love. 
This is why Solomon says: "The king that judgeth the poor in 
justice, his throne shall be established forever." ^ 

[ 80] The government of tyrants, on the other hand, cannot last 
long because it is hateful to the multitude, and what is against the 
wishes of the multitude cannot be long preserved. For a man can 
hardly pass through this present life without suffering some adversi- 
ties, and in the time of his adversity occasion cannot be lacking to 
rise against the tyrant; and when there is an opportunity there 
will not be lacking at least one of the multitude to use it. Then the 
people will fervently favor the insurgent, and what is attempted 
with the sympathy of the multitude will not easily fail of its effects. 
It can thus scarcely come to pass that the government of a tyrant 
will endure for a long time. 

[81] This is very clear, too, if we consider the means by which 
a tyrannical government is upheld. It is not upheld by love, since 
there is little or no bond of friendship between the subject multi- 
tude and the tyrant, as is evident from what we have said. On the 



THE REWARD OF A KING 195 

other hand, tyrants cannot rely on the loyalty of their subjects, for 
such a degree of virtue is not found among the generality of men 
that they should be restrained by the virtue of fidelity from throw- 
ing off the yoke of unmerited servitude, if they are able to do so. 
Nor would it perhaps be a violation of fidelity at all, according to 
the opinion of many, to frustrate the wickedness of tyrants by any 
means whatsoever.^ It remains, then, that the government of a 
tyrant is maintained by fear alone, and consequently they strive 
with all their might to be feared by their subjects. Fear, however, 
is a weak support. Those who are kept down by fear will rise 
against their rulers if the opportunity ever occurs when they can 
hope to do it with impunity, and they will rebel against their rulers 
all the more furiously the more they have been kept in subjection 
against their will by fear alone, just as water confined under pres- 
sure flows with greater impetus when it finds an outlet. That very 
fear itself is not without danger, because many become desperate 
from excessive fear, and despair of safety impels a man boldly to 
dare anything. Therefore the government of a tyrant cannot be of 
long duration. 



NOTES 



THE SUMMA THEOLOGICA, I-II 



QUESTION 90 

1 Rom. vii. 23. 

25. I-II, Q. 57. 

^Ibid., Q. 9, A. I. 

* Digest i ff. I. 

55. I-II, Q. 17, A. I. 

6 Ibid., Q. I, A. I ad 3. 

■^ Phys. ii. 

8 5. I-II, Q. 13, A. 3 ; Q. 76, A. I. 

^ Eth. vii. 3. 
105. I-II, Q. 17, A. I. 
11 Etym. V. 3. 
12/6JC/., 21. 
135. I-II, Q. 2, A. 7; Q. 3, A. I. 

14£fA. V. I. 

15 Rom. ii. 14. 
ie£f/t. ii. I. 

17£f-yw. V. 10. 
18£tA. X. 9. 

1® Codex i. 7. 

20 Etym. V. 3 ; ii. lo. 

QUESTION 91 

1 Z)c K6. ar6. i. 6. 
25. I, Q. 22, Aa. I, 2. 
8 De lib. arb. i. 
4Ps. iv. 6. 

5 5. I-II, Q. 10, A. I. 
^ De lib. arb. i.'6. 

8 De invent, rhet. ii. 
® Ecclus. XV. 14. 

10 S. I-II, Q. 14, A. I. 

11 Ps. cxviii. 33. 

12 5. I-II, Q. 5, A. S. 

13 Z)e /i6. arft. i. 5, 6. 
"Heb. vii. 12. 

15 5. I, Q. 30, A. 3. 
18 Gal. iii. 24, 25. 



i^Exod. iii. 8, 17. 
iSMatth. iv. 17. 
1^ Contra Faust, iv. 

20 Contra Adimant. xvii. 

21 Etym. V. 

22 Rom. vii. 23. 

QUESTION 92 

15. I-II, Q. 55, A. 4. 
2 Po/. iu. 6. 
^Eth. ii. I. 

4 Pol. i. 

5 5. I-II, Q. 63, A. 2. 
6/6i£/., A. I. 

■^ Con/, iii. 
^ Pol. iii. 2. 
^ Digest i. 3. 

10 Contra duas eptst. pelag. ii. 

11 Etym. V. 19. 

125. I-II, Q. 18, A. 8. 
13 I Cor. vii. 12. 

QUESTION 93 

1 Qq., qu. 46. 
25. I, Q. 34, A. I. 
8 De vera re/ig. xxx. 

4 Z)e iift. ar6. i. 6. 

5 5. I, Q. 14, A. 8. 

6 Ibid., Q. 103, A. S. 
"^Ibid., Q. IS, A. 2. 
8 Z?e Trm. XV. 14. 
»S. I, Q. 16, A. I. 

10 1 Cor. ii. II. 

11 De lib. arb. i. 6. 

12 De vera relig. xxxi. 

13 De lib. arb. i. 6. 

14 De vero relig. xxxi. 

15 Rom. viii. 7. 

i« De K6. ar&. i. 5. 



197 



iqS 



THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 



I'Prov. viii. 15. 
18 De lib. arb. i. 6. 
^^ De vera relig. xxri. 

20 Metaph. v. text. 6. 

21 Prov. viii. 29. 

22 5. I-II, Q. I, A. 2. 
235. I, Q. 22, A. 2. 
24 Gal. V. 18. 

26 Rom. viii. 7. 
26 De K&. ar6. i. 6, 
27Z)e civ. Dei xix. 12. 
28Z)e ii6. ar&. i. 15. 
29 £)g catech. rud. xviii. 
SOU Cor. iii. 17. 
«i 5. I-II, Q. 85, A. 2. 

QUESTION 94 

1 £iA. ii. s. 

2 D. F.: De fide orthod. iv. 22. 
35. I, Q. 79, A. 12. 

4 De feono conjug. xxi. 

5 De Hebdom. 

6 De ^de orthod. iii. 4. 
■^ /6irf., ii. 30. 

SDist. I. [Decretum i. i.] 

9 Rom. X. 16. 
'^^ Etym. V. 4. 
11 De bello Gall. vi. 
12D.F. tr.: and among these it is 
proper to man to be inclined to act 
according to reason. Now the proc- 
ess of reason is from the common to 
the proper, as stated in Phys. i. The 
speculative reason, however, is dif- 
ferently situated in this matter, from 
the practical reason. For, since the 
speculative reason is busied chiefly 
with necessary things, which cannot 
be otherwise than they are, its proper 
conclusions, like the universal prin- 
ciples, contain the truth without fail. 
The practical reason, on the other 
hand, is busied with contingent mat- 
ters, about which human actions are 
concerned; and consequently, al- 
though there is necessity in the gen- 
eral principles, the more we descend 
to matters of detail, the more fre- 



quently we encounter defects. Ac- 
cordingly then in speculative matters 
truth is the same in all men, both as 
to principles and as to conclusions, 
although the truth is not known to 
all as regards the conclusions, but 
only as regards the principles which 
are called common notions. But in 
matters of action, truth or practical 
rectitude is not the same for all, as 
to matters of detail but only as to 
the general principles; and where 
there is the same rectitude in mat- 
ters of detail, it is not equally known 
to aU. 

It is therefore evident that, as re- 
gards the general principles whether 
of speculative or of practical reason, 
truth or rectitude is the same for all, 
and is equally known by all. As to 
the proper conclusions of the specu- 
lative reason, the truth is the same 
for all, but is not equally known to 
all: thus it is true for all that the 
three angles of a triangle are to- 
gether equal to two right angles, al- 
though it is not known to all. But 
as to the proper conclusions of the 
practical reason, neither is the truth 
or rectitude the same for all, nor, 
where it is the same, is it equally 
known by all. Thus it is right and 
true for all to act according to rea- 
son: and from this principle it fol- 
lows as a proper conclusion, that 
goods entrusted to another should be 
restored to their owner. Now this is 
true for the majority of cases: but it 
may happen in a particular case that 
it would be injurious, and therefore 
unreasonable, to restore goods held 
in trust; for instance if they are 
claimed for the purpose of fighting 
against one's country. And this prin- 
ciple will be found to fail the more, 
according as we descend further into 
detail, e.g., if one were to say that 
goods held in trust should be re- 



NOTES 



199 



stored with such and such a guaran- 
tee, or in such and such a way; 
because the greater the number of 
conditions added, the greater the 
number of ways in which the prin- 
ciple may fail, so that it be not right 
to restore or not to restore. 

Consequently we must say that 
the natural law, as to general prin- 
ciples, is the same for all, both as 
to rectitude and as to knowledge. 
But as to certain matters of detail, 
which are conclusions, as it were, of 
those general principles, it is the 
same for all in the majority of cases, 
both as to rectitude and as to knowl- 
edge; and yet in some few cases it 
may fail, both as to rectitude, by 
reason of certain obstacles (just as 
natures subject to generation and 
corruption fail in some few cases on 
account of some obstacle), and as to 
knowledge, since in some the reason 
is perverted by passion, or evil habit, 
or an evil disposition of nature ; thus 
formerly theft, although it is ex- 
pressly contrary to the natural law, 
was not considered wrong among the 
Germans, as Julius Caesar relates 
{De Bello Gall. vi). 
13 Gen. xxii. 2. 
1* Exod. xii. 35, 
i^Osee i. 2. 
1* Etym. V. 4. 
IT Dist. 5. Wecretum i. 5.] 

18 5. I, Q. IDS, A. 6 ad I. 

19 Conf. ii. 

205. I-II, Q. 77, A. 2. 
21 Rom. i. 

QUESTION 95 

1 Eth. V. 4. 
^ Etym. V. 20. 
^Pol. i. 2. 
* Rhet. i. I. 
8 Eth. V. 7. 
^ Etym. V. 4. 



7 Etk. V. 7. 

8 Ibid. 

9D.F.: Digest i. 3. 5. 
^0 Rhetor, ii. 
11 De lib. arb. i. 5. 
i2£tA. vi. II. 

13 Etym. V. 21. 

14 De offic. vii. [De offic. i. 7.] 

15 Etym. ii. 10. 
i^D.F.: Digest xxv. 3. 
17^ Etym. V. 4 ff. 

18 Ibid., 9. 

19 Po/. iii. 10. 
^OEtym. V. 4 ff. 

QUESTION 96 

'^Eth. V. 7. 
^Digest i. 3. 2. 

3 Etym. V. 21. 

4 De civ. Dei ii. 21 ; xxii. 6. 

5 Eth. V. 7. 

8 Metaph. x. text. 4. 
"^ Eth. i. 3. 
8 Etym. V. 20. 
^Ibid., 21. 

10 Prov. XXX. 33. 

11 Matth. ix. 17. 

12 De lib. arb. i. 5. 

13 Eth. V. I. 

145. I-II, Q. 54, A. 2; Q. 60, A. i; 

Q. 62, A. 2. 

15 1 Pet. ii. 19. 

18 De lib. arb. i. 5. 

1'^ Rom. xiii. i, 2. 

18 I Tim. i. 9. 

19 D.F.: Decretals, causa 19, qu. 2. 
[Decretum ii. 19. 2. 2.] 

20 Rom. viii. 14. 
21D.F.: Digest i. 3. 31. 
22 Rom. xiii. i. 

^^ Ibid., ii. 14, 15. 

24 Extra, De constitutionibus, cap. 

C«m omnes. [This refers to the D«- 

cretals of Gregory IX, Book I, tit. 2, 

C.6.] 

25D.F.: Dionysius Cato, Disticha de 

Moribus. [Book I, preface.] 



200 THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 



26 Matth. xxiii. 3, 4- 

27 De vera relig. xxxi. 
28prov. viii. iS-' 

29 De Trinit. iv. 
30D.F.: Digest i. 3. 

QUESTION 97 

1 Eth. V. S. 

2 De lib. art. i. 6. 

3 Ibid. 

4Dist. 12. 5. [Decretum 12. 5.] 
5D.F.: Digest i. 4. 
ePo^ ii. S- 
7 Ep. ad Casulan. 
SSynon. ii. 16. 
9 Etym. V. 21. 
lOEis/t. i. 2. 

11 Deut. i. 17. 

12 Etym. V. 3. 

13 1 Cor. ix. 17. 

14 Luke xii. 42. 



QUESTION 105 

1 Pol. iii. 4. 

2 Exod. xviii. 21. 

3 Num. xi. 16. 

4 Deut. i. 13. 

5 Timaeus ii. [Steph. 29.] 

6 Deut. xvii. 14, 15. 

7 III Kings xi. 29 ff. 

8 I Kings viii. 11. 

9 Num. xxiv. 5. 

10 Po/. iii. s. 

11 Deut. i. IS- 

12 Exod. xviii. 21. 

13 Deut. i. 13. 

14 Ibid., vii. 6. 

15 Num. xxvii. 16. 

16 Judges iii. 9, 10, 15. 
I7£f/!. iv. 3. 

18 I Kings viii. 7. 

19 Deut. xvii. 14 ff. 

20 0see xiii. 11. 

21 Ibid., viii. 4. 



THE SUMMA THEOLOGICA, II-II 



QUESTION 42 

1 Etym. X. 

25. II-II, Q. 39. A. I. 

3 II Cor. xii. 20. 

45. II-II, Q. 40, A. I. 

5 II Cor. xii. 20. 

6 De civ. Dei ii. 21. 
75. II-II, Q. 41, A. 1. 
» Ibid., Q. 40, A. I. 

9 Pol. iii. 5 ; Eth. viii. 10. 

QUESTION 57 

ID.F.: Digest i. i. i. 

2 Etym. V. 3. 
SD.F.: Eth. vi. 8. 

4 De mor. Eccl. xv. 
^ Etym. V. 2. 

6 /bid. 
7£tA. V. I. 
^Etym. V. I. 
» Eth. V. 7. 



10 /bid. 

11 Isa. X. 1. 
12D.F.: Digest, i. i. I. 

13 Po?. i. 2. 

14 £«ym. V. 4. 

15 Ibid. 
^^Pol. ii. 2. 
17D.F.: Digest i. i. i. 
18 Ibid. 

^9 Pol. i. 2. 

20 De o^c. wjw. i. 24. 

2-^ Eth. V. 6. 

22 Ibid. 

23D.F.: Cf. Eth. viii. 11. 

24 Ephes. V. 28. 

25 Eth. V. 6. 

QUESTION 58 

ID.F.: Digest i. i. 10. 

2 Eth. V. I. 

3 De verit. xii. 

4 De mor. Eccl. xv. 



NOTES 



201 



•5 Etym. X. 
6 Eth. ii. 4. 
"^ Ibid., iii. i. 
8 /6zd., V. 5. 
® Tract, in loan. xl. 
10£<A. V. 4. 

11 S. II-II, Q. 25, A. I. 

12 Rom. iii. 22. 

13 De tnor. Eccl. xv. 

14 Z)e o^c. i. 7. 
'^^ Eth. V. II. 

ift5. I-II, Q. 113, A. I. 
1'^ Luke xvii. 10. 

18 De offic. tnin. ii. 6. 

19 Metaph. ix. 

20 Moral, ii. 49. 
21D.F.: £fA. ii. 6. 

22 De offic. i. 7. 

23 Wis. viii. 7. 
24£iA. i. 13. 

25 Z)e vert^ xii. 

26 5. I, Q. 81, A. 2. 
27£iA. V. I. 

28 /6jd. 

29 1 John iii. 4. 

30£fA. V. I. 

31 Ibid. 

32 /6irf. 

^^ Pol. iii. 2. 

34 ^ow. in Matth. xxv. 

35 Po/. i. I. 

36 /&W., 2. 
37 ^qr.^ qu. 61. 
38£fA. V. 2. 
39 /bid., ii. 6. 

405. I-II, Q. 61, Aa. 3, 4. 

41 Eth. ii. 3. 

42D.F.: 5. I-II, Q. 23, A. 4; Q. 31, 

A. I ; Q. 35, A. i. 

43£fA. V. I. 

445. I-II, Q. 22, A. 3; Q. 59, A. 4. 

45 Eth. vii. II. 

46 Ibid., i. 8. 

47 Ibid., V. S. 

48 Ibid., ii. 6. 

49 Ibid. 

50 /feid., ii. 6 ; V. 4. 

51D.F.: Didot ed., ix. S- Cf. £tA. 
V. 4. 



52Z)e Tn«. XIV. 9. 

53 De offic. i. 7. 

54 De offic. min. i. 24. 

55 5. II-II, Q. 80, A. I. 
66 £<A. V. 4. 

57 Z)e o^c. i. 7. 
58£(A. V. I. 
59 Rket. i. 9. 

QUESTION 66 

1 Luke xii. 18. 

2 D.F.: Horn, in Luc. xij. 18. 

3 De Trin. i. D.F.: De Fide ad Grat. 
i. I. 

4 Ps. viii. 8. 

5 S. II-II, Q. 64, A. I. 

6 Po/. i. 3- 

7 Gen. i. 26. 

8D.F.: 5erw. 64 (81), De tempore. 

9D.F.: Dist. 47, canon Sicut hi. 
[The passage referred to is in the 
Decretum i. 47. 8.] 
10 De haeres. 40. 
Ill Tim. vi. 17, 18. 
^^ Horn in Luc. xii. 18. 
13 Isa. iii. 9. 

14D.F.: Serm. 64 (81), De tempore. 
15D.F.: Dist. 47, canon Sicut hi. 
[Decretum i. 47. 8.] 

16 Etym. X. 

17 S. I-II, Q. I, A. 3 ; Q. 18, A. 6. 

18 Etym. X. 
l9£fA. V. 2. 

20 EccluS. XV. 21. 

21 Exod. xii. 35, 36. 
22D.F.: Institutes ii. 47. 

23 Exod. XX. 15. 

24 Wis. X. 19. 

25D.F.: Digest i. 8; Institutes ii. i. 
26D.F.: Institutes, loc. cit., 39; Co- 
dex X. 15. 

27 Matth. xiii. 44. 

28 D.F.: Institutes, loc. cit., 47. 
29D.F.: Digest xii. i. 9; Institutes, 
loc. cit., 48. 

80 5erm. 178. D.F.: Cf. also Digest 
xiv. 5. 

81 Prov. vi. 30. 



202 



THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 



32 5. n-ii, Q. 59, A. 4; i-n, Q. 72, 

A. 5. 

83 Rom. ii. 2. 

34 Tract. I, super loan. 

35 Exod. xxi. 16. 

^^ Extra, De jurtis, canon 3. [The 
Decretals of Gregory IX, Book V, 
tit. 18, c. 3.] 
^T Eth. ii. 6. 
38 Contra mendac. vii. 
39D.F.: Serm. 64 (81), De tempore. 
40D.F.: Dist. 47, can. Sicut hi. [Ref- 
erence is to the Decretum i. 47. 8.] 

41 De Patr. 4. D.F.: De Abraham i. 

3- 

42 £^_ 0^ Vincent. Donat. 93. 

^^ Serm. 82, Dc vcr6. Dow. 19. 
44 De civ. Dei iv. 4. 
46 Ezech. xxii. 27. 
4e5.II-II,Q. sS,Aa.4, 5. 

QUESTION 77 

1 Codex iv. 44. 8, 15. 
la De Trin. xiii. 3. 
2£fA. viii. 13. 
3Matth. vii. 12. 
4De offic. iii. 15. 
6 />o/. i. 3. 

*D.F.: Codex iv. 44. 2, 8. 
■^De Jnn. xiii. 3. 

QUESTION 78 

1 Luke xix. 23. 

2 /ftid., vi. 35. 

3 Exod. xxii. 25. 

4 £f A. V. 5 ; Pol. i. 3. 

5 Ezech. xviii. 8. 
*D.F.: Institutes ii. 4. 
TPo/. i. 3. 

8 Ezech. xviii. 17. 
sjEfA. iv. I. 

10 Rom. xi. 16. 

11 Extra, De usuris in the Decretal, 
Cum tu sicut asseris. [Reference is to 
the Decretals of Gregory IX, Book 
V, tit. 79, c. 5.] 

12 Rom. i. 32. 



135. II-II, Q. 43, A. 2. 

14£t/t. V. II. 
15/6jrf., s. 
18 Epistle 47. 
I'^Jerem. xli. 8. 

QUESTION 104 

1 Heb. xiii. 17. 

2 Moral. XXXV. 

3 De Parad. viii. 
^ Moral. XXXV. 
6S. II-II, Q. 80. 

«Dc nat. boni iii. D.F.: Cf. 5. I, Q. 
S, A. 5. 

75. MI, Q. 94, A. 3. 

85. II-II, Q. 102, A. 2. 

9 Eth. V. 4. 
10 Moral. XXXV. 
iiD.F.: Cf. Q. 82, A. 2. 

12 I Kings XV. 22. 

13 5. Il-If, Q. 81, A. 6. 

14 Moral. XXX.V. 

15 Ibid. 
le Ibid. 

17 /Wrf. 

18 I John ii. 4, 5. 

19 Moral. XXXV. 

20 /6,Vf . 

21 Matth. ix. 30, 31. 

22 Gen. xxii. 

23 Exod. xi. 

24 Osee iii. 

25 5. I-II, Q. 19, A. 10. 

26 Exod. xxiv. 7. 

27 S. I-II, Q. 9, A. 6. 

28 Moral, xix. 

29 Coloss. iii. 20, 22. 
80 Gal. iv. 14. 

31 1 Thess. ii. 13. 

32 Acts V. 29. 

83D.F.: Cf. St. Augustine, De verb. 

Dom. viii. 

34 De benef. iii. 

35 Rom. vii. 4. 

36 De civ. Dei iv. 
37Tit';9 iii. I. 

38 1 Pet. ii. 13, 14. 

39 Rom. vii. 23. 



NOTES 



203 



ON KINGSHIP 



CHAPTER ONE 

^Pol. i. 2. 

^ Hist. anim. i. i; Eth. i. 5; ihid., 
ix. 9; Pol. i. 2. The Aristotelian for- 
mula is always that man is a political 
animal. Unless special reason sug- 
gested to Aquinas the exact textual 
reproduction of this Aristotelian 
principle, he generally prefers to say 
that man is a social animal {De 
benef. vii. i. 7). The combination 
social and political animal is also 
found in 5. I-II, Q. 72, A. 4; In 
De interp. i. 2. 

3 The source of the teaching in 
§§ 5-7 is not the Aristotelian Politics 
but Avicenna, De anima v. i ; cf. 
CI. V. See also In Eth. prologue 4, 
where St. Thomas, following more 
closely the Aristotelian doctrine of 
Pol. i. 2, no longer believes the Avi- 
cennian reasoning to be capable of 
demonstrating the conclusion that 
man is a political animal. Avicenna's 
argument is used by Aquinas in IV 
Sent. 26. I. i; Quodl. vii. 17; C.G. 
iii. 85; and ibid., 128, 129, 136, 147; 
S. I-II, Q. 95. A. I (see pp. 55-57)- 

* De part. anim. iv. 10. Cf. Ill 
Sent. I. 2. sol. I ad 3; CI. v; Quodl. 
vii. 17; S. II-II, Q. 187, A. 2 c. and 
ad I. 

5 Hist. anim. i. i. 

^ Eccles. iv. 9. 

■^ Prov. xi. 14. 

8 Cf. S. I, Q. 96, A. 4. 

^ Pol. i. 5. In Metaph. prologue; In 

I Tim. ii. 3 ; -5. I, Q. 96, A. 4. 
10 Cf. CG. iii. 23, 78. 

II S. I, Q. 81, k. z ad 2; I-II, Q. 9, 
A. 2 ad 3 ; Q. 17, A. 2 orf 2, A. 7 c. 
and often elsewhere. 

"^^ Metaph. iv. i ; In Metaph. v. i. 
ispoi. iii. 6; Eth. viii. 10. In Eth. 
viii. 10; In Pol. iii. 5. 



14 Metaph. i. 2. 

15 Ezech. xxxiv. 2. 

1^ The classification of constitutions 
in §§ 11-12 is owed to Aristotle, Pol. 
iii. 7. The basis of number, however, 
on which this classification rests, is 
found inadequate by Aristotle him- 
self, ibid. In later texts, St. Thomas 
gradually abandoned it; see In Eth. 
viii. 10; 5. I-II, Q. 95, A. 4 (pp. 62 
ff.) ; Q. 105, A. I (pp. 86 ff.) ; II-II, 
Q. 50, A. I obj. I ; Q. 61, A. 2 ; /n 
Pol. iii. 6. St. Thomas ends up, just 
as Aristotle did, with a list of con- 
stitutions in which each finds its 
essential characteristic in a certain 
qualification on account of which 
political power is awarded: in mon- 
archy and aristocracy, power is given 
on account of virtue ; in oligarchy on 
account of riches; in democracy on 
account of liberty. 
^"^ Etym. ix. 19; De civ. Dei v. 19. 
18 The meaning of this proposition, 
which is doubtless intended to be a 
reproduction of Pol. iii. 7, is not 
clear. [The passage becomes clear, 
and faithful to Aristotle's text, if we 
refer it to another passage of the 
Politics, viz., 1265b 28, and to the 
commentary on it by St. Thomas 
(Bk. II, lectio 7), where he uses 
exactly the same words that are 
found here. 

The meaning is this: one of the 
just forms of government (or rather 
forms of state) is what is called 
polity, in which the many rule. But a 
just form of state demands the pos- 
session of virtues on the part of the 
ruling body. And, unfortunately, the 
virtuous people are few. However, 
says Aristotle, there is one virtue 
which is found among the many and 
that is bravery. This virtue is polit- 



204 



THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 



ically used to constitute the armed 
forces needed by the state, first and 
foremost among which was the 
heavily armed infantry (the hop- 
lites, rich enough to provide them- 
selves with the requisite armament). 
This is why Aristotle says this polity 
rests on the prevalence of "heavily 
armed soldiers." {Politics, loc. cit.) 
How highly Aristotle valued these 
hoplites is shown by what he says in 
a subsequent passage of the Politics: 
a state in which there are many 
laborers (Banausoi) and few hoplites 
cannot possibly be great. 1326* 23.] 

19 Cf. Pro P. Sestio 45, 36 ; De offic. 
ii. 23. 80. 

20 Ezech. xxvii. 24. 

21 Po/. i. 2; In Pol. i. 1. The Aris- 
totelian doctrine is here adapted to 
medieval realities in almost the same 
fashion as in some other earlier writ- 
ings of Aquinas: In Matth. xii. 2; 
In loan. xiv. i. 3; /n / Cor. xi. 4; 
In Heb. xi. 3. In the later writings, 
Aquinas (a) more clearly empha- 
sized the fact that the Aristotelian 
city seeks the satisfaction of not only 
the material but also the moral needs 
of man: In Etk. prologue ii; S. I-II, 
Q. 90, A. 2. Moreover (b) he treats 
cities and kingdoms not as specifi- 
cally different communities each hav- 
ing its own essential characteristics, 
but as formally equal and only ma- 
terially, i.e., historically different 
realizations of the same idea of "per- 
fect community." Proof of this is 
the use of the combination "city or 
kingdom" in S. II-II, Q. 47, A. 11; 
Q. so, Aa. I, 2. 

22 In Latin vicus. This is neither here 
nor in Pol. i. i the Aristotelian clan- 
village, but the street of the medi- 
eval town, called vicus (e.g., Vicus 
Straminis). In each street, St. 
Thomas says In Pol. i. 2, "one craft 
is exercised, in one the weaver's, in 
another the smith's." Modern towns 



still preserve the memory of this 
medieval arrangement in street names 
such as Shoemaker Row, Cord- 
wainer Street, Butter Row, etc. 

23 The word is of Roman imperial 
origin, cf. Etym. xiv. 2. 19; and it 
is also used in medieval Canon Law. 
In St. Albert's cosmography (De nat. 
loc. iii. I ff. ; ix. 566 ff.) Italy "is a 
province" but it also "contains sev- 
eral provinces," viz., Calabria, Apu- 
lia, Romana, Emilia, Tuscia, Lom- 
bardia. Likewise, Spain is a province 
and "has several provinces and king- 
doms." See St. Thomas' use of the 
word in II Sent. 10. i. 3 a^f 3; IV 
Sent. 24. 3. 2. sol. 3; 5. II-II, Q. 40, 
A. I. Nothing is very definite about 
this notion except that, at any rate, 
a province is part of a greater and 
more comprehensive whole. The 
word is therefore characteristic of a 
properly medieval type of political 
thinking which still retains the mem- 
ory of the Roman Empire. It was 
soon to be cast out of the political 
vocabulary; see De pot. reg. et pap. 
i. I. 

24 "Antonomasia" is the figure of 
speech by which a generic predicate 
is used to designate an individual 
because it belongs to this individual 
in an eminent degree; e.g., Rome is 
the city (5. II-II, Q. 125, A. 2) ; di- 
vine truth is the truth (C.G. i. i.). 

25 Eth. viii. 12 ; In Eth. viii. 10. 

26 Eccles. v. 8. 

CHAPTER TWO 

1 C.G. i. 42 ; iv. 76 ; S. I, Q. 103, A. 
3. This idea is characteristic of Hel- 
lenistic political philosophy, accord- 
ing to which the main function of the 
King-Saviour is considered to be the 
establishment of order and peace. Cf. 
P. Wendland, Die hellenistisch-ro- 
mische Kultur, pp. 143 ff. Also De 
civ. Dei xix. 12 ff. ; De div. nom. xi. 

2 Eth. iii. s ; /n Eth. iii. 8 ; C.G. iii. 



NOTES 



205 



146; In Matth. xii. 2. In thus tracing 
back to Aristotle the idea that peace 
is the chief social good, St. Thomas 
was misled by the fact that the 
Latin text of the Ethics translated 
the Greek eunomia (good laws well 
obeyed) by peace. 

3 Ephes. iv. 3. 

4 C.G. iv. 76 ; 5. I, Q. 103, A. 3. 

5 In Eth. viii. 10. 
^ Phys. ii. 2. 

■^ Jerem. xii. 10. 

^Ezech. xxxiv. 24; Jerem. xxx. 21. 

CHAPTER THREE 

1 Eth. viii. 12 ; /n Eth. viii. 10. 

^ Eth. viii. 12. 

^ De div. notn. iv. 30; RJ*. iii. 22. 

4 Prov. xxix. 4. 

5 Ezech. xxii. 27. 
8 Ecclus. ix. 18. 

"^ In Latin: praedicti tyranni. § 27 is 
a reproduction of Aristotle's account 
of the traditional tyrant's policy of 
repression, "many of whose charac- 
teristics are supposed to have been 
instituted by Periander of Corinth; 
but many may also be derived from 
the Persian government" (Pol. v. 
11). It is perhaps not unreasonable 
to think of the possibility that St. 
Thomas' original carried a mention 
of Periander and the Persian tyrants. 
On this suppKJsition it would be easi- 
er to explain the surprising reference 
to names or persons which have not 
been mentioned. 

8 Although there is no doubt about 
the fact that Pol. v. 11 is the source 
of this section, yet the text cannot 
be shown to depend literally on this 
source. Cf. Susemihl, ed., Arisiotelis 
Politicorum libri octo cum vetusta 
translatione Guileltni de Moerbeka, 
PP- 573-579- A disturbing feature of 
this paraphrase is that the author 
makes if a point of the tyrant's pol- 
icy to "forbid marriage." No trace 
of such a prohibition is to be found 



in Aristotle's account or its medieval 
version. St. Thomas is usually very 
accurate even in the most trifling de- 
tails of his quotations. 
^ Job XV. 21. 

10 Eth. ii. I ; /n Eth. ii. i ; S. I-II, Q. 
95, A. I, pp. 55 £E. 
^^ Eth. iii. 11; In Eth. iii. 16. 
12 Tusc. disp. I, 2, 4. 
^3 Coloss. iii. 21. 

14 Prov. xxviii. 12. 

15 Ibid., xxix. 2. 

18 Ibid., xxviii. 28. 
^Ubid., 15. 

CHAPTER FOUR 

1 De civ. Dei v. 12 ; Bel. Cat. vi. 7. 

2 Ibid. 

3 This and the subsequent proposi- 
tions are taken from De civ. Dei iii. 

19 (Livy xxvi. 36). The golden bulla 
is an ornament of the noble or rich 
Roman youth, consisting of a len- 
ticular plate which was worn hang- 
ing upon the breast: Pauly-Wissowa 
ni. 1048. 

4 Cf. De civ. Dei v. 12. 

I B^ngs iii. 18. 

^ Ibid., xii. 12, 13. 

CHAPTER FIVE 

1 Cf. Pol. V. 12. 

2 St. Thomas may here be thinking 
of the Italian city-republics, where 
an originally oligarchic constitution 
was often superseded by the one-man 
rule and the despotism of a faction- 
chief, i.e., a Podesti or a Captain 
(head of either the popolo or the mi- 
litia) . Ezzelino, the Podesti of Padua, 
who exiled the Dominican Bishop 
Bartolomeo di Breganza, was Aqui- 
nas' contemporary. See Cambridge 
Medieval History IV, pp. 178 ff., 875 
ff. 

3 On St. Thomas' whole doctrine of 
the superiority of kingship see Gil- 
son, Thomisme, pp. 455 ff. 



206 



THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 



CHAPTER SIX 

1 1 Kings xiii. 14. 

2 Cf. S. I-II, Q. 105, A. I, pp. 86 ff. 
Carlyle (A History of Mediaeval Po- 
litical Theory in the West, vol. V, 
p. 94) correctly observes that, if 
these remarks had been completed, 
it would have been under terms sim- 
ilar to those on which in the Suntma, 
loc. cit., a mixed constitution is rec- 
ommended. For a different interpre- 
tation see Mcllwain, The Growth of 
Political Thought in the West, pp. 
330 ff. 

3 A similar problem is discussed in 
II Sent. 44. 2. 2, and S. II-II, Q. 42, 
A. 2 ad 3; cf. also 5. II-II, Q. 64, 
A. 3. For the history of this problem 
see Carlyle loc. cit., vol. I, pp. 147 
£f., 161 ff., vol. Ill, pp. IIS ff- The 
considerations of the present chap- 
ter should also be read against the 
background of the history of the 
Italian Communes in the thirteenth 
century; see Cambridge Medieval 
History VI, pp. 179 ff. 

■* Vol. Max. Fact. vi. 2. Ext, 2 (Spec. 
Hist. iii. 73). 

5 Cf. Policrat. viii. 18, 20. 

6 Judges iii. 14 ff. See Policrat. viii. 
20. 

7 1 Pet. ii. 18, 19. 

8 Acta Sanctorum Septembris, vol. 
VI, 308 ff. 

» IV Kings xiv. 5, 6. 
lOProv. XX. 26. 

11 Ckron. ii; De civ. Dei v. 12. 

12 Chron. ii ; De vir. illus. i. 9. See 
also De civ. Dei. v. 21. 

I3£)e bello lud. ii. 80 ff., 93, iii. 
Archelaus, however, was not exiled 
to Lugdunum (Lyons) by Tiberius, 
but to "Vienna (Vienne), a town in 



Gaul" by Augustus (Ibid., iii; 
Chron. ii; Peter Comestor, Historia 
Scholastica, In Ev. xxiv; Spec. Hist. 
vi. 103). St. Thomas was probably 
misled by the Glossa Ordinaria, In 
Matth. ii. 22. The above statement, 
however, is somewhat puzzling in 
view of what Aquinas has said in 
Catena Aurea; In Matth. ii. 10, and 
in the commentary to St. Matthew 
ii. 4. 

14 Ps. ix. 10. 

15 Cf. Esther xv. 11. 
1^ Prov. xxi. I. 

17 See Esther. 

18 Dan. iv. 34. 
i^Ecclus. X. 17. 

20 Exod. xiv. 23-28. 

21 Dan. iv. 30. 

22 Isa. lix. I. 

23 Ibid., xiv. 3. 

24 Ezech. xxxiv. 10. 

^^ Moral. 1. 25, 16; Sentent. iii. 48. 
11; II Sent. 33. I. 2 ad s; S. II-II, 
Q. ig8, a. 4 ad 1. 

26 0see xiii. 11. 

27 Job xxxiv. 30. 

CHAPTER SEVEN 

1 Vol. Max. Fact. iv. 7. Ext. i ; Spec. 
Doctr. V. 84. 

2 Cf. Eth. viii. 12 ; In Eth. viii. 12 ; 
III Sent. 29. 6; De Perf. xiii; 5. II- 
II, Q. 23, A. 5, et al. 

3 Div. lul. 67. 
* Div. Aug. 59. 

5 Prov. xxix. 14. 

6 For instance Manegold of Lauten- 
bach. Ad Gebhardum Liber, p. 365; 
See Mcllwain, op. cit., p. 210. For 
other authors see Carlyle, op. cit., 
vol. Ill, pp. 130 ff. See above § 49, 
pp. 190 ff. 



LIST OF ABBREVIATED TITLES 



De anim. 

Avicenna, De anitna 
Bel. Cat. 

Sallust, Bellutn Catilinae 
De bello Gall. 

Caesar, De bello Gallico 
De bello lud. 

Flavius losephus, De bello ludaeico 
De benef. 

Seneca, De benefictis 
De bono conjug. 

Augustine, De bono conjugali 
De catech. rud. 

Augustine, De catechizandis 

rudibus 
CO. 

St. Thomas, Sumtna contra gen- 
tiles 
Chron. 

Eusebius, Chronicon 
CJ. 

St. Thomas, Contra itnpugnantes 

Dei cidtum et religionem 
De civ. Dei 

Augustine, De civitate Dei 
Coloss. 

St. Paul's Epistle to the Colossians 
Conf. 

Augustine, Confessions 
Contra Adimant. 

Augustine, Contra Aditnantum 

Manichaei discipulum 
Contra duas epist. pelag. 

Augustine, Contra duas epistolas 

pelagianorutn ad Bonifacium 

Papain 
Contra Faust. 

Augustine, Contra Faustum Mani- 

chaeum 
Contra mendac. 

Augustine, Contra mendaciutn liber 

ad Consentium 
Cor. 

St. Paul's Epistle to the Corinthi- 
ans 



Dan. 
The Book of Daniel 

Decretals 

The Decretals of Gregory IX 
Decretum 

Gratian, Decretum magistri Grati- 

ani 
Deut. 

Deuteronomy 
Div. Aug. 

Suetonius, Vitae XII Caesarum: 

"Divus Augustus" 
Div. lul. 

Suetonius, Vitae XII Caesarum: 

"Divus luUus" 
De div. nom. 

Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite, 

De divinis notninibus 
Eccles. 

Ecclesiastes 
Ecclus. 

Ecclesiasticus 
Ep. ad Casulan. 

Augustine, Epistola ad Casulanum 

(36) 
Ep. ad Vincent. Donat. 

Augustine, Epistola ad Vincentium 

Donatistam (93) 
Ephes. 

St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians 
Eth. 

Aristotle, Nicotnachean Ethics 
In Eth. 

St. Thomas' commentary on the 

Nichomachean Ethics 
Etym. 

Isidore, Etymologiae 
Exod. 

Exodus 
Ezech. 

Prophecy of Ezechiel 
De fide ad Grat. 

Ambrose, De fide ad Gratianum 
De fide orthod. 

Damascene, De fide orthodoxa 



207 



208 



THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 



Gal. 

St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians 
Gen. 

Genesis 
De haeres. 

Augustine, De haeresibus 
Heb. 

St. Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews 
De Hebdom. 

Boethius, De Hebdomadibus 
Hist. 

Polybius, Historiarum libri qui 
supersunt 
Hist. anim. 

Aristotle, Historic animalium 
Horn, in Luc. 

Basil's Homily on St. Luke's 
Gospel 
Horn, in Matth. 

Chrysostom's Homily on St. Mat- 
thew's Gospel 
In De inter p. 

St. Thomas' commentary on Aris- 
totle's De interpretatione 
De invent, rhet. 

Cicero, De inventione rhetorica 
Isa. 

Prophecy of Isaias 
Jerem. 

Prophecy of Jeremias 
De lib. arb. 

Augustine, De libero arbitrio 
Matth. 

Gospel of St. Matthew 
Metapk. 

Aristotle, Metaphysics 
In Metaph. 
St. Thomas' commentary on Meta- 
physics 
De mor. 

Dionysius Cato, Disticha de mori- 
bus ad filium 
Oe mor. Eccl. 

Augustine, De moribus Ecclesiae 
Catholicae et de moribus Mani- 
chaeorum 
Moral. 
Gregory I, Moralia 



De nat. boni 

Augustine, De natura boni contra 

Manichaeos 
De nat. loc. 

Albert the Great, De naiura lo- 

corum 
Num. 

Numbers 
De offic. 

Cicero, De officiis 
De offic. min. 

Ambrose, De officiis ministrorum 
De Parad. 

Ambrose, De Paradiso 
De part. anim. 

Aristotle, De partibus animalium 
De Patr. 

Ambrose, De Abraham 
De perf. 

St. Thomas, De perfectione vitae 

spiritualis 
Pet. 

Epistle of St. Peter 
Phys. 

Aristotle, Physics 
Pol. 

Aristotle, Politics 
In Pol. 

St. Thomas' commentary on Pol- 
itics 
Policrat. 

John of Salisbury, Policraticus 
De pot. reg. et pap. 

John of Paris, De potestate regia 

et papali 
Pro P. Sestio 

Cicero, Orations: "Pro Publio 

Sestio" 
Prov. 

The Book of Proverbs 
Ps. 

The Book of Psalms 

Qg. 

Augustine, De diversis guaestioni- 
bus Ixxxiii 
Quodl. 
St. Thomas, Quaestiones quodli- 
betales 






LIST OF ABBREVIATED TITLES 



209 



De repub. 

Cicero, De republica 
Rhet. 

Aristotle, Rhetoric 
Rhetor. 

Cicero, De rhetorica ad Herennium 
Rom. 

St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 
R.P. 

St. Thomas, De regimine principum 

{On Kingship) 
S. 

St. Thomas, The Summa Theo- 

logica 
Sent. 

St. Thomas' commentary on the 

Sentences of Peter Lombard 
Sentent. 

Isidore, Sententiae 
Spec, doctr. 

Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum 

doctrinale 
Spec. hist. 

Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum 

historiale 
Suppl. 

St. Thomas, Supplement to the 

Summa Theologica 
Synon. 

Isidore, Synonima 



Thess. 

St. Paul's Epistle to the Thessa- 

lonians 
Tim. 

St. Paul's Epistle to Timothy 
Tract, in loan. 

Augustine, In loannis Evangelium 

tractatus 
De Trin. 

Augustine, De Trinitate 
De Trinit. 

Hilary, De Trinitate 
Tusc. disp. 

Cicero, Tusculanae disputationes 
Val. Max. Fact. 

Valerius Maximus, Factorum et 

dictorum memorabilium exempla 
De vera relig. 

Augustine, De vera religione 
De verit. 

Anselm of Canterbury, Dialogus 

de veritate 
De vir. illus. 

St. Jerome, De viris Ulustribus 
Vulg. 

The Vulgate 
Wis. 

The Book of Wisdom 
Zach. 

Prophecy of Zacharias 



GLOSSARY 



accident: Something which does not have ontological consistency and 
which therefore needs to inhere in something else, as upon a founda- 
tion. It is opposed to substance. Examples of accidents are: weight 
(quantity), virtue (quality), paternity (relationship) which cannot 
exist without something to support them. The support of an accident 
is called a "subject." St. Thomas, following Aristotle, accounts for nine 
accidents, which, added to substance, constitute the Ten Predicaments 
or Categories. 

administratively: This word, used in the text to translate the Latin 
administrative, means subordinately , that is, performed by a min- 
ister, who is a servant. 

apprehension: Man's action depends on two faculties: one by which he 
learns about the existence of an external object; the other by which 
he is attracted (or repelled) by this object. The former is the appre- 
hensive faculty, the latter is the appetitive. 

art: Human activity directed to the modification of external matter is 
said to be engaged in a jactio (cutting, building, melting, etc.) ; but 
when this activity remains within the doer, it is called actio (in the 
restricted sense of the word). Examples of actio are feeling, willing, 
etc. The rational regulation of a jactio is art. Art is contrasted with 
nature in that the latter is a principle of change within the thing it- 
self: a seed grows naturally into a tree because the seed contains 
within itself the principle of germination. But in the case of art the 
principle of change is external to the thing: a stone becomes a statue 
not because of something it possesses but because of an action ex- 
ternal to it. This distinction is still kept alive by our use of artificial 
vs. natural. 

difference {differentia) : It is the relation of otherness between things 
that, from another point of view, are identical. This identity may be 
a generic one (as between one kind of animal and another). The 
character that distinguishes one species from others within the same 
genus is called the differentia specifica. So, e.g., man is constituted 
within the genus animal by the differentia of rationality. Popularly 
this was described by saying that the differentia is the knife that 
carves a species out of the genus. 

^ This is not a list of formal definitions. It is a list of suggestions intended 
to facilitate an initial study of the text of St. Thomas. 

210 



GLOSSARY 211 

element: This is anything from which something is originally made. In a 
bronze statue, bronze is not an element, because bronze itself is made 
out of something simpler (earth, etc.). An element moreover has a 
jorm and is thus constituted into a species, a fact which differentiates 
it from formless primal matter. And finally an element is inherent in 
the things it constitutes, which differentiates it from a principle. In 
physics the four elements were earth, water, air, and fire, to which 
ether (the quintessence) is added. 

end {finis) : It is that for the sake of which something else is done. The 
end is the first and foremost principle of causality, for, according to 
Aristotle, not only does man act finalistically (teleologically) but na- 
ture as well. The only cause not controlled by teleology is chance. 
And yet even here it plays its part because, though the ploughman 
who stumbles upon a buried pot of gold does not intend to find it (he 
is not actuated by that end), yet if we are to speak at all of fortune, 
the thing accidentally discovered must be such as to be able to be 
envisaged as an end by the human will (it must be such that, were 
its existence known, would be desirable. The end is the first moment 
in the endeavor and the last in the achievement; e.g., recovery of 
health, the thought of which begins the series of: deliberation, visit 
to the physician, entrance into the hospital, etc., is the last moment 
of the process. Since the end is what our will strives after, its mean- 
ing coincides with what we call "the good." 

essentially: This word is frequently used in the text in the strict sense of 
"according to essence or nature" ; not in the common sense which the 
word has acquired colloquially, whereby it means "not completely but 
almost so." 

femes: An inclination in man, due not to human nature a£ instituted by 
God, but to nature as corrupted by original sin. It consists in a pro- 
clivity to sensuality in disregard of the dictates of reason. 

form: It is that by which a thing is what it is: John is a man, i.e., an 
animal with a rational soul, and this rational soul is his jorm. Form is 
the principle of being; by itself it constitutes a thing in act; form is to 
act as matter is to potency. 

habit: This word is sometimes used to designate one of the Ten Predica- 
ments. It then has the meaning we find in the phrase: "The habit 
does not make the monk." It also has the post-predicamental meaning 
and signifies then the opposite of privation. Finally, it can designate 
one of the varieties of the accident quality. In this sense it has a 
meaning close to ours when we say "Virtue is a habit," or, "Walking 
becomes a habit in a well-trained child." St. Thomas uses the word 
habitudo to mean relationship. 

honest: "Honesty" (honestas) does not regularly have the restricted 
meaning which the word has acquired. It is broadly equivalent to 



212 THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 

"moral virtue." Honestum is contrasted to "useful" and "pleasur- 
able." What is honest is desired for its own sake by the rational 
appetite, as opposed to that which is desired for its use or, by the 
appetitive faculty, for pleasure. 

injury: The Latin word iniuria is translated in the text by "injury." We 
must recall however that iniuria is the opposite of "justice," so that the 
colloquial meaning of "injury" does not fit. 

intention: In addition to the ordinary meaning this word still possesses 
in the volitional sphere, it had another one which was once very com- 
mon in the field of apprehension. The representation of an external 
thing, as it exists in human consciousness, was called an intentio. 
The adverb intentionaliter was, therefore, regularly contrasted with 
the adverb realiter. Logic is an intentional science, botany a real one. 

ius: This word has given rise to confusion. Like droit, Recht, diritto, 
etc., ius has two aspects: viz., that of a regulating norm, and that of 
a faculty to a claim. Today the first is called "objective," the latter 
"subjective" ius. In English we have two different words for these two 
aspects: ius as norm is "law"; as a faculty it is "right." Confusion 
arises when the subjective term "right" is used to translate ius, droit, 
Recht, in the objective sense of "law." St. Thomas seldom uses ius 
in its subjective sense. 

judicial: This term has a narrow technical significance: iudicialia are 
those precepts given by God for the purpose of regulating man's ac- 
tion toward other men which became obsolete at the coming of 
Christ. 

legal: This term has a special sense as a modifier of "justice." It ap- 
plies to the enjoinment of certain moral acts (bravery, temperance, 
etc.) the performance of which is deemed politically indispensable. 
When the state, for example, commands a man to face death on the 
battlefield, it issues an order which is indeed just, but it is so by a 
kind of political justice, which, according to the Aristotelian usage, 
is called "legal" justice. 

motion: The word motus has more meanings than our term "motion." 
St. Thomas speaks of spiritual and of natural motus, and of the lat- 
ter he frequently considers three varieties: qualitative, e.g., change 
of color; quantitative, e.g., change of weight; and local, e.g., change 
of place, which is the sense in which we still use the word. 

order: A multiplicity of diverse individuals acting together for the at- 
tainment of an end of common interest to them all must be made 
into a unit. This unification is obtained by assigning to the properly 
endowed and accurately prepared individuals the performance of those 
tasks necessary for the attainment of the desired end. This hierarchy 
of indispensable posts graded up to the highest is called an "ordo." 
The term covers both the form of the array and the resulting organi- 



GLOSSARY 213 

zation. A good example of "ordo" is an army, arrayed from the low- 
est private up to the commanding general. What keeps it together is 
order, which subsequently comes to mean a command which, in turn, 
is not a mere arbitrary injunction but rather the norm imposed by 
the very nature of the organization. The purely formal side of order 
is obvious when we consider, for example, that an army seized by 
panic loses its capacity to defend itself and the life of its components. 
But as soon as order is re-established these same soldiers, in the same 
numbers and with the same weapons, pass from destructive confusion 
to victory. 

polMc: St. Thomas, following Aristotle, gives to this the meaning of 
"non-despodc," derived from the word politia when used in the sense 
of the good popular government (a popular government which rules 
not for the good of the lower classes alone, but for the benefit of the 
entire community). 

positive: In addition to the meanings which this word has as the oppo- 
site of negative and privative, it also has that of non-natural. This is 
a very old usage and originates with the Greek Sophists who dwelt 
on the distinction between that which is abiding (by nature) and 
that which is transient (by convention). The latter term eventually 
came to be "thesis," which was easily translated into Latin as "positio." 

potency: In addition to other well-known meanings, "potency" — as pas- 
sivity — was used in the sense which is still found today when we 
speak of a thing as potential and not actual. The seed is the tree (in 
potency). A country, potentially invincible, may actually be very 
vulnerable. Closely connected with this significance is the meaning 
which the word has in psychological parlance: the power of seeing, 
of hearing, etc. As long as we live we can always see but we do not 
see at every instant of our life; we must have the potentia, the power 
to see at all times; this potency becomes an act at the apparition of 
the appropriate object (color). 

principally: The adjective principal does not render the corresponding 
Latin one. Principally often means something quite different from 
chiefly: it does not indicate that something which is afiirmed of a 
thing could, in a lesser degree, be afl&rmed of others; but rather that 
these other things must be traced back to it. If we say that snow is 
principally constituted by water, it does not mean that there is another 
minor element in it, but that water is the one thing from which snow 
comes. 

principle: This is the source or cause of being ("nature is the principle 
of motion, etc.") ; it is also the source of inteUigibility ("not every 
principle of knowing is a principle of being"). It is a proposition 
posited at the start of a discourse, which, within the given system, 
cannot be further deduced from anything anterior to it, and which 



214 THE POLITICAL IDEAS OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 

therefore is accepted without further discussion. (This is the sense 
in which it is used by St. Thomas in the treatment of natural law; 
in this sense it is usually called primum principium.) It is a basic con- 
stituent: e.g., "The principles of natural things are these: matter, 
form, privation." A principle is more comprehensive than cause, and 
cause in turn more so than element. The point is the principium of the 
line, but not its cause. It must be recalled that cause among Aris- 
totelians is fourfold: the material cause, the formal, the efficient, and 
the final. What we today call cause corresponds to the efficient cause. 

property: (proprium) . The accident proprium is the one which is pos- 
sessed by every individual of a species and by no one outside of that 
species; e.g., the property of a magnet is the ptower to attract iron. 
From Aristotle down through medieval times, the proprium ascribed 
to man was "risible," because every man can smile, and no other 
being can. Intellectuality is not man's "property" because angels 
also have it. 

reason {ratio): This word is often used in a restricted sense, in opposi- 
tion to intellect (intellectus) . It then signifies the discursive, ratioci- 
native process in contrast to the immediate, intuitive grasp of the 
intellect. It is dianoetic and the intellect is noetic. 

simply: This word is used in the texts above to translate simpliciter. We 
must remember however that simpliciter is a quasi-synonym of "ab- 
solutely" and is used in contrast with the term "relatively" (secun- 
dum quid). 

subject: In the logical sphere it is that concept of which something must 
be predicated and which cannot itself be a predicate. In its ontolog- 
ical sense it is correlative to accident; the support of an accident, be 
that support another and more basic accident, or, ultimately, the sub- 
stance, is called subject; e.g., the subject of color is the surface of a 
body. In view of this usage we are confronted with the passages in 
which the Latin word subjective must be translated as "objectively." 
Both the logical and the ontological meaning must be kept in mind 
in interpreting the Aristotelian definition of substance as "that which 
is not in a subject nor is predicated of a subject." The first part ex- 
cludes accident which is in a subject; the second part excludes the 
universal, or second substance, i.e., species or genus. For in a propo- 
sition of which John Doe is the predicate no subject (other than 
John Doe himself) can be placed; therefore John Doe is a sub- 
stance. 

suppositum: This term denotes an individual subsisting in any given 
species or nature: John Doe is a suppositum in the species "man"; 
Fido, in the species "dog." The natures of created things are individ- 
uated by matter which is subjected to the nature of the species. 
Individuum, suppositum, and person are closely connected. Any single 



GLOSSARY 21$ 

nature, to whatever genus it might belong, can be called "individual" ; 
when restricted to the category of substance it is a "suppositum" ; fur- 
ther narrowed to rational substance it becomes "person." Any person 
is a suppositum, and any suppositum is an individual. But the con- 
verse is not true. "Hypostasis," likewise, means "person." The word 
originally signified essence or physis (nature). But as a result of the 
Trinitarian controversies over substance and persons, and of those 
over the nature of Christ, the word "hypostasis" lost its original 
significance and came to be used in the sense of person. 



SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 

Brennan, Robert E., Essays in Thomism. New York, 1942. 
Carlyle, R. W. and A. J., A History of Mediaeval Political Theory 

in the West. Edinburgh, 1903-1906. 
Cox, John F., A Thomistic Analysis of the Social Order. Washing- 
ton, D.C., 1943. 
Dougherty, George V., The Moral Basis of Social Order According 

to St. Thomas. Washington, D.C., 1941. 
Fisher, L. F,, A Philosophy of Social Leadership According to 

Thomistic Principles. Washington, D.C., 1948. 
Gierke, Otto von. Political Theories of the Middle Ages. Translated 

by Frederic Maitland. Cambridge, 1927. 
Natural Law and the Theory of Society. Translated by 

Frederic Maitland, Cambridge, 1927. 
Hutchins, R. M., 5/. Thomas and the World State. Milwaukee, 

1949. 
Maine, Sir Henry Sumner, Ancient Law. London, 1930. 
Maritain, J., Man and the State. Chicago, 195 1. 

The Rights of Man and Natural Law. New York, 1943. 

McDonald, W. J., The Social Value of Property According to St. 

Thomas. Washington, D.C., 1939. 
Mcllwain, C. H., The Growth of Political Thought in the West. 

New York, 1932. 
Murphy, E. F., St. Thomas' Political Doctrine and Democracy. 

Washington, D.C., 192 1. 
Ostheimer, A. L., The Family. Washington, D.C., 1939. 
Passerin d'Entreves, Alessandro, The Medieval Contributors to 

Political Thought. London, 1939. 
Reardon, John J., Selfishness and the Social Order. Washington, 

D.C., 1943. 
Rommen, H. A., The Natural Law. St. Louis, 1947. 
Sabine, George H., A History of Political Theory. New York, 

1937; revised edition, 1950. 

216 



SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 2l^ 

Slesser, Henry Herman, The Judicial Office and Other Matters. 
London and New York, 1943. 

Velez-Saenz, Jaime, The Doctrine of the Common Good of Civil 
Society in the Works of St. Thomas Aquinas. Notre Dame, 
Indiana, 1951. 

Wolfe, Mary J., The Problem of Solidarism in St. Thomas. Wash- 
ington, D.C., 1938. 



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THE HAFNER LfflRARY 3 126208910 4i44 

Edited wifh Introduction and notes by recognized scholars 



The Political Ideals of Saint 
Thomas Aquinas - Representa- 
tive Selections 1«25 



Aristotle: The Constitution of 
Athens and Related Texts - 
Translation 0-95 



Bentham: An Introduction to the 
Principles of Morals and 
Legislation 1-25 



Kant: Critique of Judgment 

Bernard translation 1.35 



Locke: Two Treatises of 
Government and Sir Robert 
Filchner: Patriarcha 1.25 



John Stuart Mill's Philosophy of 
Scientific Method 1-35 



Montesquieu: The Spirit of the 
Laws - 2 vols-in-one 2.25 



Herder: G O D — 
Some Conversations 
Translation 1.25 



Rousseau: The Social Contract 
Translation 1791 rev 0.90 



Hume: Dialogues Concerning 
Natural Religion 0.90 



Newton's Philosophy of Nature 
- Selections from his Writings 
and Letters 1-25 



Hume's Moral and Political 

Philosophy ' 1 .35 



Adam Smith's Moral and 
Political Philosophy 



1.35 



William James: Essays in 

Pragmatism 0.95 



Spinoza: Ethics 1.25 

Preceded by 'The Improvement 
of the Understanding" 



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